WrestleWatch- PWA Paint It Black Label Results & Review
By Mick Robson
In writing these reviews, I often wax lyrical about the growth of Pro Wrestling Australia, as a fan that started from the first Black Label (18+) show at Parramatta RSL close to 5 years ago now. I've been there for the ride as they've grown and evolved, changing venues from RSLs to running Max Watts, Factory Theatre and even the Star Casino in Sydney for a PROGRESS cross-promotional show. I've been there as intenational stars like the Bullet Club, Will Ospreay, Orange Cassidy, Pete Dunne, Toni Storm and even Jushin "Thunder" Liger have graced PWA rings. And I've seen how PWA has been exposed to different audiences on different streaming services, from PWAPlay to OVOPlay, now to FITE TV.
All that to say, I've seen a lot of PWA and even through a pandemic, they soldiered on to create some of the most compelling pro wrestling content around. Lately, they seem to be firing on all cylinders, as the last Black Label show, University of Falling Off a 20 Foot Ladder, was one of the most consistently high quality, entertaining shows I've seen PWA put on. The main event saw three of PWA's best go to war, as the Rapscallion, Mick Moretti, bested Unsocial Jordan and Lyrebird Luchi in a triple threat ladder match to both retain the Soul of PWA Championship and win the Interim PWA Heavyweight Championship.
As we await the recovery of PWA Heavyweight Champion Ricky South from a neck injury, Moretti is tasked with being the standard bearer in PWA in his absence. His first task- defending the belt against one of the nefarious challengers from the ladder match, Lyrebird Luchi. Luchi is known for sneaking through and getting victory after victory in high profile spots, no matter how much he has to run, hide and cheat to get there. He even weaseled his way to victory in a steel cage match against Bossa Bones Rogers! So Moretti- who is constantly undertaking nefarious tricks in his own right- devised a cunning plan... the main event at PWA Paint It Black Label will be a First Blood match!
The undercard boasts some compelling matches, perhaps the mouth-watering being an interstate clash, as Perth's EPW Champion Julian Ward comes over to Sydney to defend his gold against Ben Braxton, Kai Drake, and Jessica Troy. All the performers on the show are hungry and prepared to give 110% as always (full credit to the boys).
On the day of the show, PWA took to social media to say that there would be a major announcement on this show. What could it be?
I attend the vast majority of PWA Black Label shows, but unfortunately missing this one as I'm down with the sickness. Good thing FITE TV has my back!
Let's do this!
The PWA opening video airs to the sounds of SETMEONFIRE's anthem, "Now We Conquer".
Nick Wray is our ring announcer, delivering the acknowledgement of country, and our commentary team is Kris Gale and Concrete Davidson, filling in for Andrew Rose.
Match 1: Mask vs. Turtleneck- Juan Direction (Romantic Juan, Funny Juan, Tough Juan & Giant Juan) vs. SMS (Aaron Jake, Belinda Pierce, Carter Deams & Unsocial Jordan)
Stream cuts out as the match starts. Massive shame. So we're back here covering this match the morning after the show. The Juans have the clear crowd support- it's a silly gimmick, a lucha stable inspired by a British boy band, but we embrace silly gimmicks here at PWA! It's odd seeing Jordan in the opening match after main eventing the last show, but it speaks to what a versatile performer Jordan is.
There's definitely a contrast in characters here- the fun loving Juans vs. the super-serious SMS, but the Juans also have the advantage of being a well-oiled team. They also bust out some silly antics, where possibly the Funny Juan? starts twerking after selling his back for a moment. Things get a bit more serious as he low bridges them all out of the ring, then a massive moonsault to the outside wipes out the whole stable.
Even though this quartet of SMS haven't worked in a great deal of official matches to this point, they find their groove with a series of tandem moves, culminating in a top rope splash by Deams for a great near fall. After an elevated DDT counter by whichever Juan it is (Conco and Kris quip that it's the Tired/Exhausted Juan), we get the hot tag to the Giant Juan, who cleans house. We get a near fall from the Juans after a 3D, but everyone's in to break it up, it's chaos and Referee Nick calls for the bell!
Winner: No Contest (at 7:28)
Star Rating: **1/2. Fine while it lasted, and I was initially put off by the fact that we get no payoff to the advertised stipulation, but it turns out that wasn't the real story here...
SMS get the advantage over the Juans as Unsocial Jordan grabs his tripod (not an euphemism). He also grabs a microphone, saying he's a man of the people, and the people wanted to see an unmasking. Jordan rips off the mask to reveal... PWA Heavyweight Champion Ricky South! Tuff Stuff is back! Ricky takes it to everyone. He takes Aaron's head off with a lariat before hitting a sit-out powerslam. He dodges a Belinda spear, causing her to wipe out Carter. Powerslam on Belinda. Piledriver on Deams. Ricky reaches into his jacket pocket and takes out his trademark lipstick. As he applies it, Jordan looks to put him in a sleeper hold. South breaks free and hits him with a lariat and a piledriver! Ringside staff hand him his PWA title belt as his music plays. Excellent return for the champ, it's fantastic to see him back!
We cut to Kris and Conco reacting to Ricky's return. Kris says that he thought Ricky was at an "unspecified medical facility" (nice). They promote other matches on the card, including the EPW Championship match and the no. 1 contendership to the PWA tag titles, as PPK face BackPain.
We cut to Will Kiedis in the ring for the Goober Report. He looks quite put off and lost without his intern, Cherry Stephens. The set is looking a bit bare too ("budget cuts" according to Gale). He places his framed photograph of TV presenter Karl Stefanovic upside down, which as we all know is the Australian signal of distress. He says, "I bet you're all happy about what happened, eh?" to resounding cheers. He doesn't blame Cherry though. Instead, he blames "all of you!" Classic. According to Kiedis, the fans cheered Cherry so much that her ego grew and grew until she stabbed him in the back. He claims to have "plucked her from obscurity". He references the next Black Label show being called "Cherry's All That" (at Selina's in Coogee, I'll be there!). Anyone who supports that show is "part of the problem" and a grade A GOOBER! (happy to be!).
Big Fudge's music hits and our favourite super heavyweight hits the ring! He feels terrible about betraying Cherry, but still- if she beats Moretti at Selina's, he wins the bet- he bet Kiedis that he could make Cherry Stephens a champion. Then Bossa Bones Rogers makes his entrance! He's sick of all the bitching about the bet, and "bets" that neither one of them will fight him. Kiedis quickly gathers up his set (also not a euphemism) and gets the hell outta there. Fudge, on the other hand, calls him "Bossa Bitch Rogers" and slaps him in the face! Oh! It is on!
Match 2: Bossa Bones Rogers vs. Big Fudge
Rogers takes early control, but Fudge dodges a splash in the corner and hits an eye poke and a kick to the shins, followed by the babooshka. Vintage Fudge! We joke about him being a super heavyweight, but he often finds ways to deal with the size and power disadvantages that he often faces. Fudge plays an effective underdog, and the crowd is behind him every time he gets the upper hand on his powerhouse opponent. He gets a near fall off the senton to the back of Rogers, and I would suggest that Rogers was only able to kick out because he wrestled the match in his leather jacket. Added layer of protection.
Rogers misses a massive top rope elbow drop and Fudge sets up for the chokeslam, but Kiedis comes back out to ringside to cause a distraction. This allows Rogers to hit a big boot, followed by the pumphandle slam and that's all she wrote!
Winner: Bossa Bones Rogers (at 5:08)
Star Rating: **. Simple and effective. I would suggest that the road leads to Selina's for both Fudge & Kiedis. As for Rogers, I'm sure he'll find someone else to call a "f**kwit" at the next show.
Appropriately timed is a hype video for PWA Black Label: Cherry's All That, live from Selina's at Coogee Bay Hotel on September 23, or live on FITE if you can't make it in person!
"The following contest is set for one fa-" Oh, shit, we're cutting to mid-match. I guess the VOD didn't make it completely unscathed. We also had an abrupt jump at the start of the Goober Report segment.
Match 3: Shazza McKenzie vs. Adam Hoffman
Shazza is on a mission to destroy the Nations stable, beginning with Jessica Troy at the last show, and keeping the theme going against Hoff here. Appropriate levels of aggression here as she rains down flurries of strikes on the leader of the Blue Nation. Great venom as she boots Hoffman in the face and taunts him. Hoffman battles back with shoulders to the gut. Unsure if the brace he's wearing would add or detract from the effectiveness of those strikes. Shazza regains control with a tornado DDT for a nice near fall.
Hoffman laughs some of Shazza's offense off, clearly not taking this Nation's vendetta as seriously as McKenzie is. Shazza fires off her patented series of kicks in the ropes, punctuated by a slap. She grabs a chair but Hoffman stops her. He misses a slingshot senton attempt and takes a Saito suplex. Hoffman counters another tornado DDT attempt with an Angle Slam. Shazza comes back with a suicide dive but Hoff catches her and suplexes her on the apron! The slingshot senton follows and this time connects. Spinebuster gets him a near fall.
Hoffman goes up top and Shazza brings him back down with a fisherman's suplex for a near fall. She goes for the Shazztastic Stunner but Hoff counters. They trade strikes. Shazza locks in a neck vice submission but Hoff rolls through and smashes her with a powerbomb, followed by a cloverleaf. Shazza pulls the referee into Hoffman to break the hold, then boots Hoff in the nuts and smashes him with a steel chair. Yep, that's a DQ.
Winner: Adam Hoffman (via DQ) (time unknown)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Wasn't going to rate this as it was missing part of it on the FITE VOD, but I don't think it actually skipped a lot, and what I saw was really, really good. So they're telling the story that Shazza doesn't particularly care about wins and losses in this crusade against the Nations, she just wants to maim or grievously injure them in any way she can. Great stuff.
We return to the live stream with Shazza McKenzie getting disqualified, hitting Adam Hoffman with a chair. Jack Bonza comes out to take the chair off her and she exits stage left.
It's time for the big announcement that was teased on PWA social media. PWA are embarking on a tour of the east coast of Australia in October! Massive news. It's called the LFG Tour, and the dates/locations are as follows- Oct 1- Gold Coast. Oct 2- Brisbane. Oct 7-8- Melbourne (the already announced Colosseum tournament). Oct 14- Wollongong. Oct 15- Newcastle. Oct 21- Sydney. Oct 28- Canberra.
Love this! Most excited about the Wollongong show, as I live in Wollongong and we haven't had a large scale wrestling event in almost 2 years. Rock N Roll Wrestling did return last weekend with an Academy show, which was fun but not on the same scale as previous Rock N Roll shows at proper venues. Hoping that the shows are broadcast in some form, whether live or taped, but either way, should be a hell of a fun ride!
Match 4: Rhys Angel vs. Jimmy Townsend
The commentators draw attention to Jimmy's improvements and evolution from his days in the Prefects, particularly noting his improved physique. Jimmy is a favourite of PWA audiences, and Rhys is effective at gaining heat with his arrogant persona. Their past with Grayson Waller is referenced as part of Generation Now. I always feel like that adds a little something to PWA shows, just that little reminder that, hey, one of our own is in WWE, having matches with the likes of AJ Styles and Apollo Crews.
Jimmy picks up the pace but Rhys slows it down as he begs off, concerned about his beautiful face. Jimmy is athletic and elusive, dodging Rhys' attacks and hitting a springboard cross body for a near fall. Jimmy misses a superman punch and Angel fires back with a stalling vertical suplex. Impressive power! Rhys wears down Jimmy for a period of time, but a solid punch in the face of the budding OnlyFans star puts a stop to that. Jimmy makes a comeback, but misses a moonsault and takes a DDT for a 2 count. They trade rapid-fire pin attempts- and an inside cradle sees both men's shoulders down for a 3 count!
Winner: Draw (at 9:40)
Star Rating: ***. Good back-and-forth action between two of PWA's rising stars. Really enjoyed the work of Conco and Kris on commentary in this match, giving context on the characters, their history, and possible motivations going forward as they promoted the upcoming Colosseum tournament. The finish leaves the possibility for a continuing feud between Townsend and Angel with higher stakes. Something to keep an eye on.
Face-off between PWA Heavyweight Champion Ricky South and Interim Champion Mick Moretti backstage at the Factory Theatre. Once Ricky deals with SMS and Moretti deals with Cherry at Selina's, the unification match should be on the horizon. Possibly in October? Or, hell, it could be Ricky vs. Cherry for the undisputed championship.
Match 5: EPW Heavyweight Championship- Ben Braxton vs. Kai Drake vs. Jessica Troy vs. Julian Ward (c)
I found out that the E in EPW stands for Explosive, and this match lives up to that billing! Ward carried himself with a confident swagger, while Jess was great at gaining sympathy with her selling and facial expressions (also because everyone loves her, and justifiably so!). Kai actually has a fair amount of support from the crowd at Marrickville, as they ooh and ahh at his vicious chops on Braxton. Meanwhile, Braxton is a freak, and I mean that in the best way. Moves around the ring effortlessly in this one. He hits Ward with a wild looking belly to belly. Sometimes he does flips, sometimes he makes other people do flips. He then wipes everyone out at ringside with an Asai moonsault, just to restore balance to the world. Back in the ring, an intricate sequence results in Jess taking Braxton down, then hitting both Ward and Drake with a massive double DDT!
Kai Drake does an admirable job kicking everyone's head in. Ben Braxton exhibits insane athleticism. Jessica Troy gets visual submissions on Drake and Braxton, but Referee Nick missed it. Ward has a great moment where he hits Jess with a top rope fallaway slam into Drake and Braxton. Wild! The defending champion Julian Ward is a hard-hitting country boy, and this being my first time seeing him, I was very impressed by his style. Ward retains with a massive lariat that turns Braxton inside out for the win, narrowly retaining his title. All-action showcase for all four wrestlers, also featuring an amusing commentary cameo from Kai Drake's tag partner, Michael Spencer. Very fun exhibition where everyone got chances to shine.
Winner: Julian Ward (at 12:55)
Star Rating: ***3/4. Main takeaway from this- I need to see more of Julian Ward. Hope he visits PWA again soon, but in the meantime, I need to find some EPW stuff online. Drake and Braxton are future top tier stars, and we already know Jess Troy is one of the best in the world.
Intermission. The match on the FITE stream is Robbie Eagles vs. Adam Brooks vs. Jonah Rock from Diego's Last Show in January 2019. This was Jonah's last match in Australia before he went to NXT and became Bronson Reed.
Match 6: PPK (Frankie B & Nikki Van Blair) vs. BackPain (Backman & Jack Pain) (w/ Gym Bro Jessie)
I was so torn in this one. On one hand, I've seen BackPain evolve as a tag team for the last couple of years, and I was there for Fite Nite 2 where they were screwed out of the PWA Tag Team Championships. On the other hand, Frankie B is really, really pretty. On a serious note, PPK have gelled amazingly as a team since debuting in January, and Frankie has made the most of finally being in the ring after years of injury setbacks. There's an intensity and passion to the way she wrestles that you don't see a lot of. She kinda looks like prime Trish Stratus but kinda wrestles like prime Taz- with a splash of Rey Mysterio.
We're treated to a double dose of Michael Spencer on commentary, as MK Plus Ultra come out to scout their competition. And of course we have the wordsmith Kai Drake, who communicates exclusively in grunts and random noises. Funny spot to start as BackPain offer their protein shake to PPK, but Frankie spits in in the face of Jessie on the apron. Frankie rocks Backman and Jack Pain with forearms in the early going. Zero fear. Headlock/headscissor combo takes down both members of BackPain! Moonsault to the outside takes out Backman and Jessie! Nikki does her part tagging in with heavy strikes and also headbutts. Great atheticism as well, as a cartwheel splash gets a near fall. Running hip attack on Jack Pain adds a little sass, but Backman is in to lever her with a clothesline.
The big boys take over for some time with their size and power. They isolate Frankie, the smaller member of PPK who also has a taped shoulder. I know those feels with shoulder issues! Jack Pain essentially kills her with a bucklebomb. She manages to turn a powerbomb into a rana and make the hot tag to Nikki! A great flurry results in Natural Selection for a near fall. Another great moment sees Nikki hit a top rope Samoan Drop on Pain, but Backman breaks up the count. Backman starts a beat down on Nikki, but Frankie intercepts with a victory roll off the turnbuckle? That was innovative! Double team Code Red on Backman seals the deal!
Winners: PPK (at 8:55)
Star Rating: ***1/4. What a meteoric rise through the ranks for PPK! (Kris used the exact same term in the post-match, great minds!) Was a little surprised at the result, I thought the tenure and growing popularity of BackPain would see them get the title shot, but no complaints about strapping the rocket to two stars as talented and charismatic as Nikki & Frankie!
Match 7: Sk8er Boi Nathan Pidgeon vs. Jack J Bonza
Yes, Pidgeon has the theme you think he would have, and it's glorious. Bonza via murder, I mean, freestyle bow and arrow submission. Pidgey making his Black Label debut here, but Bonza just ran through him like a freight train! Pidgey tries to match Bonza in technical wrestling, which seems to piss Bonza off after his loss to Istria at the last Black Label. So he takes his frustrations out on the recently graduated former Green Dingo. Pidgey gets a few hope spots, like reversing the Napalm Thunder Driver into a DDT, and getting a very close 2 count on a sunset flip, but for the most part this was a one-sided beatdown. Probably a more effective therapy session for Bonza than Tag Team Therapy was a few months ago.
Winner: Jack J Bonza (at 7:10)
Star Rating: **. Always fun to see Bonza do his thing. Interested to see Bonza take on Shazza in the Nations feud- Shazza has approached the whole thing very pissed off, but you can't out piss off Bonza.
Match 8: Interim PWA Heavyweight Championship- First Blood- Lyrebird Luchi vs. Mick Moretti (c)
Luchi always has a plan, and this time his plan was to wear a full body suit and head gear. It doesn't last though, as Moretti tears the attire right off him. By contrast, Moretti was wrestling in tiny shorts. It's the little things. Luchi plays the cat and mouse game for as long as he can, but eventually finds a window to try and tear the flesh off the Rapscallion. Conco remarks that Moretti must have skin made of leather. Steel chairs get involved, and Luchi drives Moretti's face through one, but still no crimson.
At one point, all the people Luchi has wronged storm the ring- Bossa Bones, PPK, Jessica Troy, and they all lay the boots in. When the action gets back to just Moretti and Luchi, Moretti lifts Luchi in a fireman's carry and drapes him on the ropes... then Referee Hannah calls for the bell! We don't see any blood, and Luchi remains face down until the show goes off the air. Very odd. Was there an injury?
(Note: I wanted to give more details on the main event, but as of this writing, the available VOD on FITE cuts out midway through the match)
Winner: Mick Moretti (time unknown)
Star Rating: ***1/4. Not going to lie, I watched the finish back a couple of times last night and didn't see a drop of blood. Luchi kept his face down on the mat until the show went off the air. The action was good, and it was a bit cathartic to see everyone who Luchi has wronged come out and start laying into him. But if you advertise a First Blood match, one typically expects, y'know, blood. Instead, they went the, "let's not and say we did" route. Incredibly disappointing. Unless Luchi did get colour and they just happened to not show a bit of it... which, again, is a very bad move. Can't fault the action leading up to the finish- but that ending seemed to confuse everyone- the crowd, the FITE viewers, the commentators and even Moretti himself looked very taken aback. If it turns out there was an injury that led to the match being called, I can't criticise it, but it definitely feels weird in the moment. Time may tell, I guess.
EDIT: Seen several reports from people live that Luchi's arm was bleeding early in the match, don't think the FITE cameras were really able to pick it up though.
This was a good event heavily marred by technical difficulties- both on the night live on FITE and on the VOD next day. I feel like I would have a more positive opinion of the show had I been there live. As it was, the FITE viewers missed about an hour of the show live, and even the next day is missing chunks and abruptly stops before the main event finishes. Halloween Havoc 1998 vibes.
On the positive side- Shazza vs. Hoffman and the EPW Championship match were a lot of fun. Fantastic to see Ricky South back and looking healthy. The no. 1 contenders match was also a spirited effort with a somewhat surprising result. The main event was well done until the end. If Luchi is injured, I hope he's okay, and if he wasn't injured... I don't know why we got a First Blood match with no blood. Throughout the show, I really enjoyed the commentary work from Kris Gale & Concrete Davidson as well. Conco seemed very comfortable in trying to fill the large shoes of Andrew Rose.
Another highlight of the show was the announcement of the LFG Tour. With Cherry's All That, Colosseum and the LFG Tour, there is a lot to look forward to in PWA over the next couple of months. The technical difficulties experienced here are extremely rare for PWA, so I expect it's all systems go from here on out.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Until next time, take care.