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WrestleWatch- PWA Black Label: University of Falling Off a 20 Foot Ladder

By Mick Robson

Invasion 2001. Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy for the WWF Hardcore Championship. After Jeff takes a horrendous fall off a ladder, Jim Ross mocks the prevailing thought amongst non-wrestling fans that those kind of stunts don't hurt. "Oh, they learn how to fall. Learn to fall, my big Oklahoma ass! How do you learn to fall off a 20 foot ladder?" It was a soundbite that would go on to be used for years to come in "Don't Try This At Home" commercials. And it also inspired the name of the latest PWA Black Label show.

PWA University of Falling Off a 20 Foot Ladder was a welcome return to major Black Label shows. The last was a good 9 weeks ago, as PWA Eat, Sleep, Wrestle, Repeat was broadcast from Selina's at Coogee Bay Hotel. A nice new venue for PWA as they continue to broaden their horizons again now that we're free from COVID lockdowns, and that event marked a bit of a rebuilding process for PWA, as their top guy, PWA Heavyweight Champion Ricky South, was struck down with a neck injury. PWA Ladder Uni hopefully sees the world right itself, with the main event being, you guessed it, a ladder match.

Top contender Unsocial Jordan. King of the Metro winner Lyrebird Luchi. The Soul of PWA Champion, Mick Moretti. Winner takes home both PWA titles in a triple threat ladder match!

With quite the undercard lined up, we've got a stacked show to get to at the Factory Theatre. I was there in Marrickville last night, and now am watching it back on FITE TV.

Let's do this!


In a slight change up, ring announcer Diego Retamales does the acknowledgement of country before the PWA opening video airs. That job usually falls to the commentary team of Andrew Rose & Kris Gale.

A rowdy crowd lets a "PWA" chant out as Rose and Gale welcome us to the show for the opening match!

Match 1: Jimmy Townsend vs. Carter Deams

Thoughts: This was done really well, with two young guys putting on an athletic masterclass. It really feels like a look at the future of PWA, both in the very immediate future and for years to come. I'm still not entirely sold on the Carter/SMS association, but Deams is committed to the role, showing disdain for the crowd and an increased mean streak. The story is also told of both men's association with Grayson Waller (fka Matty Wahlberg in PWA rings). Townsend flies around the ring with ease, and shows his increased experience by playing some mind games, pulling out some red party cups in reference to Carter's former team with Waller/Wahlberg as the BABES. Carter uses the anger to fuel him, though, and manages to crotch Jimmy on the ropes on a moonsault attempt, followed by a stomp and a scissors kick. High level stuff.

Winner: Carter Deams (at 9:51)

Star Rating: ***1/2. Great opener to set the tone for the show. Bright futures for both guys, and I continue to feel that Deams is a breakout star in the making. I'm pleased to see he has a lot of credibility in the ring since joining SMS, looking strong all the way. On the other hand, Jimmy loses little to nothing in defeat, seeing as he had a ton of offense himself throughout the match duration.

We cut to Rose & Gale for a run-down of the card, including Jack Bonza vs. Punch Drunk Istria, and MK Plus Ultra vs. Lightspeed Express.

It's time for the live Goober Report. Will Kiedis is in the ring with his intern, Cherry Stephens. Kiedis announces himself as the face of Wayward Brewing Co, until Cherry corrects him and says that actually, she's the new face (and one of the best faces in PWA!) Cherry talks about winning the Key To The Card with Fudge's help, and after that training, she's ready to leave the Goober Report. Kiedis is beside himself, and then Big Fudge comes to the ring. Fudge says that Cherry has a bright future- not as an intern, but as a wrestler. Fudge goes to leave with Cherry, but Kiedis stops them and spills the beans- "you know he was only using you for a bet?" Cherry asks Fudge if it's true, and he says, "I'm sorry." Cherry is understandably furious, "I'm a fucking bet?!?" Kiedis tells Cherry to get back to work, and she obliges. Dammit! Great segment, a real gut punch and big time story progression.

A promo with Shazza McKenzie airs. She talks about the history of the Nations, and how she used to be part of that as the leader of the Pink Nation. She was booted out, and so she's decided to put an end to the Nations, starting with Jessica Troy, who was "handed opportunities" in Shazza's words. In reality, Jess is one of the very best in the country.

Match 2: Shazza McKenzie vs. Jessica Troy

Thoughts: I came in with fond memories of PWA All Eyez on Troy, where these two met in an epic for the PWWA Championship, which saw Jess reach the mountain top. As the second match on the card with a screwy DQ finish, this wasn't positioned to challenge that classic on this night. However, it should mean that the rivalry continues, and we may get a chance to see them run it back in a higher profile way. I enjoyed this more on a second watch, as Shazza's vicious streak really came across well on FITE, as does Jess's selling and gaining sympathy. Hopefully we see them throw down again soon!

Winner: Jessica Troy (via DQ) (at 9:15)

Star Rating: ***. Both ladies brought the aggression and it built nicely to some big spots. A quality outing before the finish took the wind out of everyone's sails.

Match 3: Wayward Brewing Co. Six Pack Challenge- PPK vs. Rhys Angel vs. Big Brother Billy Preston vs. Gym Bro Jessie vs. The Executive David Streamer vs. Ben Braxton vs. Bossa Bones Rogers

Thoughts: A typical six pack challenge match involves six competitors, but we've got a PWA twist on this with some product placement- eight wrestlers in total, but the prize is a six pack of Wayward Brewing beer! Lovely. Bodies flying all over the place with this one, with Newcastle's Ben Braxton being a particular stand-out with his high flying, PPK try and use their seductive ways to get an advantage over Rhys Angel, and Bossa Bones is driven by the singular desire to drink beer. Most excellent. Served as a great way to get a cast of characters on the show in one spot, as well as plugging some pretty quality beer! One thing that the FITE cameras missed was Streamer dragging Frankie out of the ring and calling her a "slurry", leading to some heavy strikes exchanged on both sides! Gold.

Winner: Rhys Angel (at 7:12)

Star Rating: ***1/4. This match had action, drama, comedy and a whole lot of shenanigans. Plus beer! What's not to love?

Post-match, Rhys poses with the beer, and an irritated Rogers takes the beer, chugs it, then drops Angel with a right hand. He then reaches into Rhys' pocket and takes his gold chain. Well, I guess if the former "Full Force" Mat Rogers is a pirate now, that checks out?

Slex is announced as the first entrant in this year's Colosseum tournament. As covered in my review of MCW Ballroom Brawl, PWA Colosseum will be taking place in Melbourne this year, essentially cross-promoting with MCW, so Slex is a name that makes a lot of sense.

Match 4: Punch-Drunk Istria vs. Jack Bonza

Thoughts: This was a rematch from the 2018 Colosseum tournament, and it was one of the best matches of the night then, and it was one of the best on this card as well. It speaks to the variety that PWA offers- to this point in the show, we've seen a good amount of high flying and smooth, lucha style wrestling. This felt more like a pub fight at times, very gritty but also technical in how they would grapple with each other. They traded various submissions and some high impact moves, and there was an ever-present intensity here. Istria ultimately gets a quick pin variation in something of an upset!

Winner: Punch-Drunk Istria (at 14:30)

Star Rating: ****1/4. A damn fine battle, a war. Two of the toughest guys to step into a PWA ring, they threw down and gave as good as they got. Incredibly physical and fascinating to watch them try and break each other down.

Match 5: PWA Tag Team Championship- Lightspeed Express (Robbie Eagles & Mat Diamond) vs. MK Plus Ultra (Michael Spencer & Kai Drake) (c)

Thoughts: This was everything that PWA fans could have hoped for, apart from fan favourites LSX not winning the gold. A truly incredible tag team match, and it still blows my mind how far MK Plus have come. I've always enjoyed them, but a couple of years ago they were pest heels that literally stole the tag belts, and now they're in a position where they can go toe to toe with one of the greatest tag teams in PWA history. High flying and strikes aplenty, including blistering chops that drew blood on both sides. Mat Diamond also hit an amazing flip dive off the Factory Theatre stage! It does wonders for the trajectory of MK Plus, who won in relatively clean fashion over two veterans, some may say legends of Aussie wrestling. Credit to Rose on FITE too, keeping the fans watching the broadcast clear on the lucha tag rules. I'm used to it as a long term PWA fan, but there were newbies sitting behind me that were confused about the amount of in and out between the two teams.

Winners: MK Plus Ultra (at 19:10)

Star Rating: ****1/2. Eagles and Diamond were as on their game as they'll ever be, and MK Plus Ultra still prevailed. A real star-making performance for Spencer & Drake.

Intermission. The match broadcast on FITE is Team PWA vs. Team MCW from last year's Now We Conquer event, featuring the defection of Caveman Ugg to Melbourne. A dark day in PWA history... but perhaps a little foreshadowing for Colosseum?

Match 6: No. 1 Contender's Match- Big Fudge vs. Will Kiedis vs. Cherry Stephens

Thoughts: This begins as Kiedis vs. Fudge one on one, with Cherry as Will's personal referee, but after getting pushed around, Cherry leaves the match... only to come back in her gear with her Key To The Card, adding herself to the match! She beats up both Kiedis and Fudge with incredible fire and crowd support, and ultimately gets the win with the C-Bomb! Cherry Stephens is the No. 1 contender!

Winner: Cherry Stephens (at 10:28)

Star Rating: ****. This was all about the emotional rollercoaster. Between the earlier Goober Report segment and the antics throughout this match, Cherry was already a major sympathetic figure, but when you add in the months and months of Kiedis treating her like shit, as well as Fudge screwing up, every bit of offense dished out by Cherry almost felt cathartic. Brilliant pro wrestling story-telling.

Match 7: SMS (Aaron Jake & Belinda Pierce) vs. Juan Direction (Funny Juan & Romantic Juan)

Thoughts: The crowd was pretty spent after the outpouring of love and emotion for Cherry, so this really served as a buffer match. That said, the teams worked well, and Juan Direction in particular did everything they could to jazz up the crowd. We had a homage to the Dudleyz with a 3D, but a follow-up Wassup is thwarted by Belinda. SMS set up for a double team slam- but then the music of Ricky South hits! The injured champ isn't here, it's just a distraction, and Juan hits the devastating roll-up for the 3!

Winners: Juan Direction (at 4:30)

Star Rating: *1/2. There's a clear hierarchy in SMS. Jordan is the leader, Carter is the imposing force that added an edge to the group... and Belinda & Aaron are lackeys/cannon fodder.

Match 8: Interim PWA Championship & Soul of PWA Championship- Triple Threat Ladder Match- Lyrebird Luchi vs. Unsocial Jordan vs. Mick Moretti (c)

Thoughts: This was an excellent main event. After months, or maybe even years at this point, of Jordan and Luchi snaking their way to big victories, the overwhelming expectation was that they would do it again here, especially when they formed an alliance to take out Moretti. By the way, it definitely wasn't a 20 foot ladder, more like a 10 foot ladder... maybe. But the psychology of a ladder match still worked, and it was satisfying seeing the heels get knocked around. SMS got involved in the match a lot as well, but Moretti wiped them out with a flip dive. Moretti later went completely through a legitimate steel ladder- the thing had been badly bent and warped, and a suplex through it spelled the end of that climbing apparatus. Moretti finally took out the two baddies with some shenanigans- it appeared he was taken away from ringside after suffering an injury, but he came out from under the ring and hit them both with snapmare drivers. He then climbed up to retrieve both belts. Couldn't happen to a cooler guy.

Winner: Mick Moretti (at 30:35)

Star Rating: ****. Tremendous pay-off. The heels gloating made the match drag live in parts, and it did have a significant run time, but seeing Moretti pull through after all that- worth it. Oh, and the man wrestled wearing an eye patch as well! Madness. With the low roof, a lot of the match didn't get as crazy high flying as most modern ladder matches do, but they built the match around the climb and the two on one disadvantage very effectively.

Overall Thoughts

PWA knocked it out of the park with this one. I honestly wasn't totally enamoured with the show at Selina's, but here they returned to their usual higher standard, and even exceeded it in parts. Often, PWA excel bell to bell, so it's no surprise when great matches are on the card. But the Cherry Stephens story might be my favourite storytelling that I've seen PWA pull off. Firing off stories like that, while delivering banger matches like Bonza vs. Istria and LSX vs. MK Plus... there's really something for everyone here. Very excited to see what PWA pulls off over the next few months firing on all cylinders like this!

Overall Score: 9/10

Until next time, take care.


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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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