WrestleWatch- SLAM Pro League 5 (05/11/2022)
By Mick Robson
(Photo Credits: New Photography Studios & SLAM Pro League)
Just when I think I'm out, they drag me back in.
I thought I was taking a short break from attending wrestling shows, after the monumental month that was PWA's LFG Tour in October. As it turns out, my arm can be very easily twisted with a "hey, wanna check out this show?" Bit of a drive to Canberra, but nowhere near the longest I've done. It occurs to me that I mention the travel I do to some shows, but to a lot of people, especially wrestlers, it wouldn't be a big deal. Travelling here, there and everywhere is part of the gig. But for me, I was essentially house-bound due to poor health for a number of years, so actually being able to attend events outside of a 10-15 minute radius with increasing regularity is still a novel concept for me.
The show- SLAM Pro League 5. The title kind of gives it away, hey. A stacked card on this one, with a mix of Aussie wrestling talent. Never been to Canberra for a wrestling show, so totally unfamilar with their scene, but this card featured a mix of NSW and Victorian talent. A closer look at the SLAM roster also reveals talent from Adelaide and Newcastle as well. Bringing in the big guns!
And speaking of guns, this show marked the return to Canberra of The Sniper of the Skies, Robbie Eagles. Robbie has wrestled all around the country, and has also made a name for himself in New Japan Pro Wrestling, winning their Jr. Heavyweight and Jr Tag Team Championships. With all that going on, this is Robbie's first match in the ACT in 5 years!
Plenty more to love on this card too, and it's about time we get to it. Let's do this!
The show opens with an introduction of the crew- referees, announcers, interviewers. Very over-the-top presentation as a family-friendly show- although the bright, flashy aesthetic strongly reminded me of pokie machines. I managed to resist the urge on this night at the Ainslie Football Club, eating a nice but somewhat overpriced dinner before the show.
Match 1: SLAM Pro Heavyweight Championship- Caveman Ugg vs. Mikey Broderick (c)
Wow, was the crowd into this one! I have some familarity with Mikey through appearances in PWA and a couple in MCW, but I believe he's largely been a heel, with perhaps some comedic babyface tendencies in Melbourne- at least that's how crowds seemed to respond to him. Here, he was in full-fledged fiery face mode. He's a Canberra native and was given a hero's welcome- although Ugg didn't seem to care, battering Broderick around ringside and unleashing some vicious chops.
I'm gonna be real- it was hard to see portions of this show. We had mid-level seats, but found ourselves sitting behind some of the taller humans in the room. I may be a bit dicey on some of the finer details due to obscured views. Next time, I need to make sure I get better seats. Or, as someone who maxed out in height in Year 8, perhaps a booster seat. The finish came when MIkey escaped an Ugg Splash bomb, and shortly thereafter came off the top rope with- I believe- a flying elbow drop for the 3 count!
Winner: Mikey Broderick (***1/2)
Post-match, a promo aired for Mikey's next challenger- it's Tommy Knight! He must be recovering relatively well from his injuries- as a reaggravated shoulder issue has ruled Knight out of this month's MCW 12. SLAM returns with that title match, as well as a 20 Man Rumble, on Jan 14, 2023.
Match 2: Vinnie Bronson (w/ Josh) vs. Mat Diamond
Josh is a radio host from Hit 104.7, and he cut a heel promo to rile up the crowd. Tough to make out what was said- a combo of audio quality and the Canberra crowd booing the hell out of this man. Impressive heat- he had a smarmy persona- like if the kid on COD who said he was going to bang your mum grew up.
It was interesting hearing the row of blokes behind me react to this match. They were clearly punters who hadn't seen much, if any pro wrestling before. They mocked Diamond for his height/size, but the mocking soon gave way to awe as he got rolling with lightning-quick offense, including a spinning heel kick, standing shooting star press and split-legged moonsault. Before Diamond could hit his best stuff, Josh got involved, and the distraction was enough for Bronson to hit an inverted suplex, followed by a Shining Wizard, for the win!
Winner: Vinnie Bronson (***)
Match 3: Shay Kassidy vs. Rita Stone
Man, I'm starting to think my awesome Jessica Troy shirt is a jinx. I first wore it to Colosseum Night 2, where she lost to Robbie Eagles in the opener. This time, I wore the shirt in support of Jess as she was set to face Rita Stone- but she was pulled from the show for unknown reasons and replaced by Shay Kassidy. A great replacement, but now I'm wearing a shirt supporting a wrestler that's not even there!
Anyway, Rita seemed to assume the babyface role in this one, but more of a badass anti-hero against the tormented soul Shay, who mocked people at ringside and took a few little shortcuts throughout. Stone has some great athletic ability, known for her 450 Splash, but on this show, got it done with her submission prowess- a crossface or perhaps an omoplata to get the tap! Bonus points for incorporating Shay's teddy, Barnaby.
Winner: Rita Stone (***)
Match 4: Robbie Eagles vs. Luke Watts
Babyface vs. babyface in this one, with Watts being a local boy, but Robbie being Robbie. They take their time to start, shaking hands then geeing up the crowd before trading arm wringers and tests of strength before gradually picking up the pace. Lots of playing to the crowd, but it does give way to a competitive, serious contest eventually. Robbie rockets out of the ring with a flip dive, going clean over the barricade in the process and up the aisle as the crowd roars their approval.
Robbie starts targeting the leg with surgical precision- not bad strategy considering Luke is also a high flier. This leads to a strong finish- Watts misses the Shooting Star Press, landing hard on his knee. Robbie follows with a springboard dropkick to the knee, followed by a 450 Splash to the leg, following by the Ron Miller Special. This one's done!
Winner: Robbie Eagles (****)
Post-match, Robbie Eagles helps Luke Watts to his feet and raises his hand. Respect.
Intermission. I got a free SLAM shirt due to having a "golden ticket" in my chocolate bar. Got it signed by Robbie Eagles, Mat Diamond, Rita Stone & Shay Kassidy. Will need to take it to the next SLAM show to get more signatures!
Match 5: Dan Archer vs. Lee Morrow
Morrow is dubbed "The Australian Hero", and made his entrance to "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again"? The crowd fills in the crucial part in the chorus with gusto. This may be a family friendly show, and we were warned pre-show about "obscene language", but this is Aussie culture, dammit!
Archer, for his part, heeled things up beautifully as Morrow took the piss, offering a test of strength when he was clearly the stronger man by a mile. Definitely a body guy. Archer relied on a "pulling the bow" pose way too often- because his name is Archer, you see, and that's what archers do. Despite being on the back foot for much of the match, Archer does find the opening to hit the package piledriver- and it's good for the 3!
Winner: Dan Archer (**1/2- but ***** on the shenanigans scale)
Match 6: Slex vs. Crofty
Talk about a battle of polar opposites! The refined, jacked specimen known as "The Business", Slex, against "The Bogan Warrior", Crofty. Crofty's another Canberra talent, and represents proudly by looking like everyone's dad, and wrestling like it too. Seemed rough around the edges, but it fit his character perfectly. He started the match like a pub fight, and never let up on the intensity or aggression. Despite a slip on the ropes during a 10 punch spot, the rest of proceedings went smoothly despite the rough appearance. And to be fair, the ropes were very loose- Slex only just kept his footing on a Disaster Kick.
We get a ref bump and Slex hits the Slexecution kick for a visual pinfall. A replacement ref only gets a 2 count. Soon after, Crofty hits either a sit-down Tombstone or Michinoku Driver for a big time victory at SLAM! Crofty has won me over big time, can't wait to see him wrestle again!
Winner: Crofty (***1/4)
Match 7: Mick Moretti vs. Super Bison
Endless respect for Mick Moretti- both for his world-class ability and his smarts in evading the "obscene language" rule- his entrance video featured the phrase "constantly undertaking nefarious tricks"- decipher that one! First time seeing Super Bison- he wears a mask with horns on it and proceeded to act like an actual bull when Moretti waved a red cloth. Tis the nature of a family-friendly show- not everything I see is going to be to my personal tastes.
Moretti leads the dance on this one- also briefly slips on the loose ropes but composes himself well. Later, a snapmare driver only gets a 2 count- I can only assume it was the horns that absorbed the impact. Bison returns fire with a sidewalk slam for a near fall. Moretti avoids a spear from Bison and throws down a quick roll-up to escape with the victory. Honestly, didn't love this one. Not going to say it was a bad match because Mick Moretti doesn't have bad matches- but this one wasn't for me.
Winner: Mick Moretti (**1/4)
Match 8: SLAM Tag Team Championship- The Velocities (Paris De Silva & Jude London) vs. The Natural Classics (Tome & Stevie Filip)
Bit of history here, crowning the inaugural SLAM Tag Team Champions. The pre-match videos from the Classics mentions knowing the Velocities well, and that was evident here. Smooth double team work on both sides, and Classics manipulating the ref in order to gain unfair advantages. As the match gets underway, Jude grabs a fan sign that reads "Natural Classholes"- and that's what the crowd continued to chant through much of this match.
The speed and technique never really let up, and there was high drama down the stretch- Velocities hit one of the Filips with their powerbomb/slingblade combo. It appears to get the 3 count but something is wrong- I believe a foot may have gotten on the ropes, although someone yelled out that the wrong Filip was being pinned. Anyway, the confusion allows the Classics to hit a tandem powerbomb/backstabber- and NOW we have new tag champs! The right choice for the main event, an excellent match indeed!
Winners: The Natural Classics (****1/4)
What a fantastic show! The energy started off hot and never really let up! SLAM's social media posts mentioned 500+ in attendance- I don't know if it was truly quite that many, but they brought the energy of thousands. An invested crowd can make all the difference, but they still needed to be given something worth cheering, and everyone involved put forth a great effort.
As it turns out, Canberra is a pretty good location for a wrestling show- sort of the midway point for NSW and Victorian wrestlers, not terribly far for Adelaide wrestlers and a crowd that gets completely immersed in it all. Now for next time, I just need Jessica Troy and a booster seat and I'm a happy camper. Bookended by two huge title matches, as well as the featured bout of Eagles vs. Watts, this show will be well worth a watch wherever it ends up surfacing. I, for one, fully intend to attend the Jan 14 show with the Rumble! Love a good Rumble.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Until next time, take care.