WrestleWatch- PWA Graduation Day 2022
By Mick Robson
Back with another Academy show! This one carries a little extra interest, because as the name implies, we're seeing some Green Dingoes graduate! They've paid their dues, passed the grading, and done enough squats and burpees to make your head spin. We've also got other Green Dingoes in action, as well as the usual PWA main roster members.
Best of all, this event was free on YouTube! So I could have stayed home, enjoyed the show, and saved money given the ridiculous rising cost of petrol. But there's nothing like being live at a PWA event, even the shows at the Academy. The crowds are small and intimate, but always full of energy.
I remember my graduation day. I never got chopped or body slammed. I did get a cool blue hat and robe though.
Let's do this!
It may have been 3:16 Day the other day, but PWA has their own Austin... the bald, the beard, the beautiful Piers Austin! He does the acknowledgement of country for the show and nails it! He's doing play by play on this show alongside JT Robinson on colour.
The PWA intro video plays.
Back to Piers and JT for a quick rundown of the card. Then to Diego to introduce the first match. He did oblige our request to "Dance, Diego, dance" before his on camera time. What a man. Them hips don't lie.
Match 1: Jack Bonza vs. Skater Boi Pidgey
Pidgey is one of our graduating Dingoes, and comes out to Avril Lavigne's classic hit song. Piers quips that this could be Pidgey's funeral day as well as his graduation day. He wrestles in jorts and boots. Bonza has his swear jar and his trademark scowl. Pidgey surprises Bonza in the early going and wraps up his legs, but instead of locking in a submission, skates on his back! He pays for it with some brutal chops, but is able to take them and fight back. As the Green Dingo system mirrors NJPW and its Young Lions in a lot of ways, we're seeing Pidgey wrestle in a more competitive fashion with some new moves, including a huge top rope cross body for a near fall. Pidgey survives the ankle lock, and then a Tombstone Piledriver, but it's becoming more and more clear that the more experienced Bonza has this in the bag. Another ankle lock attempt is transitioned to the STF, and we have to say "see you later, boi" to Pidgey.
Winner: Jack Bonza (at 7:55)
Star Rating: ***. Fun opener for the show. Pidgey definitely had a lot of confidence with his new character, and Bonza had some fun with it too, singing the lyrics but changing it to "he wasn't good enough to wrestle". But he absolutely was. Going to be fun to watch Pidgey's evolution from here, and Bonza builds momentum heading towards the massive King of the Metro show next month.
The hype video plays for PWA King of the Metro, April 23 at the Metro Theatre. 30 Person Rumble about to go down! Such a piece of quality work from Video Boy Jax. Makes this feel like a monumental event... and well, it is. The Metro Theatre is a huge get for PWA, and the last PWA Rumble we saw, it was the last appearances of Matty Wahlberg (Grayson Waller) and Steph De Lander (Persia Pirotta). Wonder what happened to those two?
Match 2: Fatal 4 Way- Will Kiedis vs. Parker Tomas vs. Aaron Jake vs. Big Brother Billy Preston
Will Kiedis and Billy Preston are announced as entrants in King of the Metro. See, if I didn't watch these shows back to do the reviews, I wouldn't know that! Unsocial Jordan accompanies Aaron Jake, but no Belinda Pierce, and no Cherry Stephens by the side of Will Kiedis either, which is a letdown.
Kiedis and AJ clear Billy's friends, the Playtime Pals, from the ring. Billy crotches both Tomas and Kiedis on the top rope, and then hot shots a charging AJ onto the top rope, taking all 3 opponents out at once. Don't let the kid's presenter presentation fool you, Preston is a dangerous man! AJ gets a near fall from a Hardcore Holly-esque dropkick on Billy. Later, Billy goes for the 10 punches in the corner, but before we can count to 10, Kiedis hoists him up, allowing AJ to leap off the ropes with a clothesline. I like to call that the Goobs-day Device. Inventive finish soon after as Kiedis hits the Unprettier on Billy, causing him to land on PT. Great finish by the Goober, err, I mean the Goober Killer.
Winner: Will Kiedis (at 8:10)
Star Rating: ***. Good fun from 4 established characters in PWA, with fun, unique spots scattered in. Thinking outside the box helped this avoid the dreaded "second match on the card" syndrome. This kept the show momentum and energy in the building rising.
A promo video airs for PWA at the Beer, Food and Footy Festival in Marrickville. Will probably give that one a miss personally, but it's great to see PWA in a unique setting! I'm just not a big enough footy fan to make the trip there.
Match 3: Unsocial Jordan vs. Silvio Milano
Why did Jordan bother going backstage again? Silvio is back in new gear- he made his return at the last Academy show and looked great in doing so. Dueling chants of "SMS" and "Silvio" to start things here- glad the energy in the Academy is translating on the broadcast! Fast pace to start with both men charging, using Irish whips, leapfrogs and a nice slingshot arm drag from Jordan... and Jordan looks for the sleeper hold early! Silvio comes back with a flying back elbow and a senton for a near fall. Commentary note Silvio's vicious side showing here, which I noted during the FIte Nite show. Definitely a lot more intensity from Silvio.
Silvio charges again but is caught with a elevated sleeper on the turnbuckle! Jordan breaks before the 5 count, but definitely some serious damage done. Great exploder suplex by Silvio sent Jordan flying, but he's compromised after that sleeper. He pulls himself together for a big flurry, punctuated with a Black Hole Slam for a near fall. Jordan comes back with a suplex from the apron, forcing Silvio to land face-first on THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING! Shining wizard against the apron follows, but back in the ring, Silvio kicks out. Undetered, Jordan fires off a series of elbows before locking in an arm trap variant of the sleeper... and that'll end it!
Winner: Unsocial Jordan (at 7:05)
Star Rating: ***1/4. As the number 1 contender, Jordan gave Silvio a lot in this match. They kept up a furious pace throughout, with Silvio giving as good as he got, but ultimately Jordan solidifies his status as no. 1 contender to the PWA title.
Match 4: PPK (Frankie B & Nikki Van Blair) vs. MK Plus Ultra (Michael Spencer & Kai Drake)
I'm sure there's more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking, but PPK are showing that life is good when you're living that way! The sisterhood has a big challenge ahead in this non-title match against the new PWA tag champions.
Frankie and Nikki show each other a lot of love to start the match, which frustrates Spencer. So Spencer blasts Frankie with a huge flying knee! Do you not love love?!? It's lucha tag rules, and that knee just about knocked Frankie into the front row, so Nikki's in to fight MK Plus Ultra 2 on 1. Frankie pulls Kai Drake to the floor and blasts him with a forearm, allowing Nikki to hit a huge Samoan Drop on Spencer! Teamwork makes the dream work.
Kai drags Frankie to the floor, sits her in a ringside seat and blasts her with chops and kicks. Damn, he is not holding back! Did he ask Frankie out and she said no or something? Jokes aside, Frankie has been super physical since making her official PWA debut, almost like she's making up for lost time, it's awesome.
MK Plus blast Nikki with strikes, but a bit of miscommunication allows a tag to be made, and Frankie comes in all guns blazing... but Spencer pushes Frankie to the floor, making Nikki legal again. MK Plus double team Nikki for a time, but a graceful cartwheel allows a tag to Frankie! She absolutely destroys Spencer and Drake with forearms and chops, before taking them both out with a clothesline/DDT combo. JT picks Frankie as the breakout star of 2022, and based on what we're seeing, it's hard to disagree. Middle rope moonsault on Drake gets a near fall.
PPK set up for a double team on Drake but Spencer interferes. He sends Nikki into the ring post and takes out Frankie with a springboard clothesline. You can hear me asking "can we get one legal man in there?" to which Referee Nick responded, "I'm trying!" Seconds later, MK Plus hit the combo knee/superkick on Frankie for the win.
Winners: MK Plus Utra (at 6:40)
Star Rating: ***. As a new tag team, PPK looked big time for just being able to hang with the onslaught that MK Plus Ultra brought to them, and they had a bit of an out with the blindside attack at the start of the match. Start throwing in 5 counts for these illegal tag wrestlers though- it felt like they were double-teaming all match!
Quick video with Nikki Brown and Lyrebird Luchi. It cut in a bit weirdly, as we just hear Nikki say "PWA Rumble" before Luchi appears on screen. He pulls a beer bottle out of a trash can, and Nikki asks, "are you happy with what you got?" Wait, that's how they're picking Rumble numbers? Brilliant! Luchi says, "that'll do" as he walks off.
Match 5: Ricky South vs. The Executive David Streamer
Tall task for the newest Green Dingo graduate, taking on the reigning PWA Champion. Ricky congratulates him on his graduation before we get down to business. Fundamental start with a collar and elbow, followed by a side headlock, but the champ blasts Streamer down with a shoulder block. Moments later, Streamer responds in kind but not kindly as he knocks South down with a shoulder of his own. Welcome to the jungle.
Ricky lets a heelish side come out as the match gets more competitive- maybe Streamer giving him more than he expected? They trade atomic drops, then Streamer hits a Manhattan Drop, followed by a DDT for a near fall. South regains control with a boot in the ropes, but he's a little rattled. Full nelson slam gains Ricky a 2 count. Ricky goes for a suplex, but Streamer lands on his feet and hits a flying European uppercut! Twisting uranage gets Streamer a great near fall. Ricky comes back with a boot and an over the shoulder powerslam for a close call of his own.
Ricky is clearly getting frustrated, and a fired up Streamer gets to his feet and says, "I do not tolerate insubordination!" The champ responds with a huge clothesline, followed by the piledriver to end it!
Winner: Ricky South (at 11:20)
Star Rating: ***1/4. Hell of a battle here. Ricky was clearly the better man, but for Streamer to have that kind of showing established him as an immediate force on the PWA main roster. Instant dose of credibility. This also helped South in reminding the audience of his vicious side, which I assume he will need to face Carter Deams at King of the Metro.
Intermission. We get the last 15 minutes of the last PWA Rumble, at It Started Out With A Kiss in 2021. Hey, there's me in an Austin shirt sitting on the stage! Great teaser for the upcoming Metro show.
Luchi joins Piers to do guest commentary for the upcoming match. And now I wish the other Austin was here to give him a Stunner.
Match 6: Big Fudge vs. Jessica Troy
I'm so incredibly conflicted in this match. Big Fudge is hilarious and has been one of my favourites for a long time, but Jess is possibly THE favourite right now, one of the very best Australia has to offer. Big Fudge is announced for the King of the Metro Rumble as we get underway here. Fudge offers his hand as a sign of sportsmanship, which is kind of like dangling your arm out there for a Great White shark. They call her the Arm Collector for a reason, Fudge!
Fudge escapes by squealing and running to the ropes. Highly technical counter. They trade arm locks and head scissors, and I'll be damned, Fudge is going hold for hold with Jess! Jess runs the ropes and Luchi calls it as an Arabian arm drag. There we go. I learnt a new move name today. Jess runs the ropes and hits a series of elbows, and the former PWWA Champion looks to take control. Running boot to the head across the apron scores a 2 count.
Fudge goes back to his MMA Fudge days and locks in a flying armbar, but Troy reverses into a stack pin for 2. Jess looks for a suplex, but Fudge counters with the Stundog Millionaire. This is far more competitive than I ever imagined! Middle rope senton gets Fudge a near fall. Fudge sets up for a chokeslam, but Jess escapes and kicks him in the arm. Jess charges but is caught with the snake eyes in the corner! Jess is set up on the ropes but battles back and hits a Meteora to the arm!
They battle mid-ring and Troy gets the better of things with well placed pump kicks to the arm. Fudge escapes a charging attack and scores with the Butt Punch! He lifts Jess into a fireman's carry but she counters with a poison rana! Fudge staggers to his feet and hits a Canadian Destroyer! Or Canadian Jess-Troyer? I'll keep my day job. Eventually they get back to their feet and Jess looks for the Fujiwara armbar, but Fudge reverses into a jackknife pin for an excellent near fall. Then Fudge applies the Fujiwara armbar! Damn, he's really wrenching on that thing! Troy gets her foot on the ropes, but that was a nail-biter.
Jess goes for the tilt-a-whirl into the armbar, but Fudge rolls through and goes for the chokeslam. Jess lands on her feet and locks in the Fujiwara armbar... and Fudge is forced to tap!
Winner: Jessica Troy (at 11:58)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Definitely match of the show right here. I never expected it to be that close, but that was a barn-burner. Luchi added to things by being an absolute prick about both Fudge and Troy on commentary, suggesting that he's targeting both at the King of the Metro.
Luchi mocks Jess, saying she can't throw people over the top rope with an armbar. Jess gets in his face but doesn't say anything, just staring him down for the moment.
Ad for the Beer Shed show. Now this one I'll likely be at. The first one was a truckload of fun, even though we had to say goodbye to Don Marnell.
Match 7: Six Person Tag- Green Dingoes (Tommy Dee, Josh Ryan & Dom Walker) vs Backpain (Backman & Jack Pain) & Gym Bro Jessie Wilde
Brand new Dingoes here, I hope I got their names right, Tommy Dee is the only one I've seen before. Josh starts as the biggest of the three Dingoes and immediately blasts Backman with a chop, only to get a receipt right back. Josh low bridges a charging Backman and we get a tag. Dingoes need to keep things moving, don't let the big boys get comfortable!
Gym Bro Jessie in, and apparently this is her first official match in PWA. She's been physically involved a bunch, but I guess it's always been as a manager. She's in against Dingo Dom. They trade headlocks then Dom hits a neckbreaker which barely gets 2. Backman in and he takes out two Dingoes at once with a shoulder block. It takes all 3 Dingoes to get Backman down.. for a 1 count.
Tommy Dee in and looks to fire up, but Backpain shut him down with a double beal. Stereo backbreakers on Josh and Dom. They take turns military pressing Dom, then Jessie tags in to hit a slam- after doing some squats with Dom- for a 2 count. Dom hits a jawbreaker and tags out to Tommy, who comes in and wipes out Jessie with a flying European uppercut. Tilt a whirl backbreaker into a reverse DDT gets Tommy a 2 count. Backman gets in and takes him out with the Sonny Bill (Pounce). Jack Pain hits his spinebuster (which is one of the best I've seen). Double slam on Dom ends him. I mean, ends the match. He's still alive (I think.)
Winners: Backpain & Gym Bro Jessie (at 8:40)
Star Rating: **1/4. We needed a match where the current Dingoes got destroyed to contrast to the graduating Dingoes holding their own, so this was well done. Backpain are definitely turning into something special. Hope they target MK Plus Ultra and those tag titles soon.
Match 8: The Rhys Angel vs. Robbie Eagles
Angel is announced for King of the Metro. Massive reaction for Robbie Eagles with the "Robbie Robbie Robbie, Oi Oi Oi" chant. Former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight and Jr. Tag Team Champion, and the Head Coach at the PWA Academy. Quick trading of holds and pin attempts to start off. Rhys gets a long two with a La Magistral cradle. Nice arm drag and Rhys claims early control. Lots of arm drags, leg sweeps and missed strikes, culminating in stereo dropkicks and nip ups. Niiiiiice.
Rhys gathers himself and knocks Robbie out of the ring with a dropkick. They briefly fight around ringside and Angel catches Eagles with a knee to the ribs on the way back in the ring. Low dropkick by Eagles forces Angel to roll to ringside. Robbie sets up for a dive but does the fake out with a backflip off the ropes. Shades of his old tag partner, Will Ospreay.
Back in the ring, Rhys hits a neckbreaker, but only gets a 1 count. Robbie comes back and looks for the Ron Miller Special, but gets kicked into the turnbuckle. Kick combo and a low DDT gets Angel a near fall. He briefly takes Robbie's signature bandana and wears it. The disrespect! Eagles comes back with a snap rana, spinning wheel kick and a nip up. Classic Eagles! Soon after, running knees in the corner gets Robbie a long 2 count.
Robbie spends a lot of time setting up a Figure 4, and is countered with an inside cradle for a close near fall. Robbie gets back on offense and works the legs. He goes up top for the 450 Splash, but Rhys moves and Robbie rolls through. Angel scores with a tornado DDT off the ropes- looked a bit rough but got the job done. 2 count. Huge double underhook DDT gets an even closer near fall for The Rhys Angel.
Robbie looks for a Turbo Backpack but Rhys blocks it, so Robbie hits a brutal back suplex for a near fall. They trade strikes, then Angel busts out a TKO, followed by the Rings of Saturn! Eagles gets a foot on the ropes to break the hold. Angel hits 3 Superman Punches in a row, but Robbie kicks out! It's because he didn't "OOH-AH!" before hitting it. Rhys goes for a springboard, but Robbie catches him and hits the Turbo Backpack! Eagles goes up top and hits the 450 Splash to the legs, followed by the Ron Miller Special... and Angel has no choice but to tap!
Winner: Robbie Eagles (at 17:23)
Star Rating: ***1/2. High quality main event. Not as much of a sprint as Troy vs. Fudge, but a great story that built at a different pace. Angel wanted to prove himself, Eagles wanted to show he was still on top, but both occasionally battled with their own egos. Robbie showed some cockiness here, much like Ricky South did earlier, and it gave the less experienced Rhys Angel more openings to attack. Excellent battle, and as seems to be the theme tonight, Angel's stock rises even in a loss, going to his limit with the Ace of PWA, Robbie Eagles.
I always feel like PWA over-deliver at these Academy shows, and Graduation Day was no exception. Eagles vs. Angel delivered in the main event slot, Troy vs. Fudge was a level above what I thought they would do, and the graduating Dingos knocked it out of the park with vets like Bonza and Ricky. Plus, we had acts like Backpain and PPK which look set to take over Aussie wrestling in 2022. Well worth the price of admission, and an absolute steal if you were watching it at home on YouTube. Top notch pro wrestling.
Overall Score: 8/10
Until next time, take care.