I THINK a certain amount of negativity has been floating
around the Aussie scene since last Friday. Or maybe it's jealousy?
Because I am arguably the most POSITIVE man in Australian
wrestling, I think it's time I reviewed IWA Fighting Spirit at Penrith Panthers
Firstly, congratulations to EVERYONE who helped in
organising this event. Your efforts showed as you drew a crowd of 500+ and the
venue was done up like a treat. Great lighting, great sound, great set-up all
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I reckon this would be the
biggest crowd for a Sydney show since the last Supershow in 2005, so again,
CONGRATS to IWA and the guys who put this event together.
To the vast array of local and interstate talent on show, I
can only say that I enjoyed myself immensely and would rate this as easily the best
show IWA has ever staged. Let's do a run-down of the matches, shall we?
1. The five-way was a helluva opening match. The guys worked
well together and didn't outstay their welcome considering there was going to
be a loooooong Royal Rumble following them. Great moves, great chemistry and
great crowd heat. Will all due respect to the interstate talent that followed
these boys, but this was easily the second best match on the card. Congrats to
IWA in pulling the trigger on Paris as the new Trans-Tasman champ. The company
needs a new plucky babyface hero and Paris fits the bill. I was also greatly
impressed, as usual, with Joshua Gatt's power moves. The bull is strong. :)
Hopefully, ex-champ Randal and Keegan can now settle into a
nice lil' blood feud, culminating with a mask vs moustache match. Lucha! Lucha!
2. Super Contender Cup: This is the second local Royal
Rumble I've seen this year and both were lots of fun. It was cool to see Salem stomp a hole in never-say-die babyface Turkish Delight. The interstaters all
had their moments to shine. The veterans - Angus McLoud, Rob Matrix and
Scarecrow - had fun but didn't overshadow the regular roster. Overall, a
well-put-together rumble, especially as you had to coordinate 20 bodies in that
ring. I was a bit surprised Apollo won to earn a shot at any title whenever and
wherever he wants, but it played into the main storyline later that night.
3. Mark Mercedes pinned Ryan Eagles after a cool no-DQ brawl
that went into the crowd, up into the upper sections, then down again.
Crutches, tables, chairs – there was plenty of hard-core mayhem before Robbie
Eagles interfered to put his older brother through a table courtesy of a 450
splash and hand the win to the IWA owner. Great stuff, especially from the old
hand Mercedes in his first full match in some years.
4. For me, the bout of the night was Tyson Gibbs’ clash with
“Jurassic Punk” Syd Parker. Just a brutal, hard-hitting affair. As a friend
told me, there is NOBODY with a persona like Syd Parker in the world today.
This guy has superstar written all over him. And Gibbs is the perfect opponent
for him – just a hard-working BEAST of a wrestler. Also, kudos to the finish.
There aren’t too many top babyfaces who’d put over an outsider clean with a
submission loss. I presume that means we’ll be seeing more of Syd on future
shows. That can only be a good thing.
5. After the intermission, it was time for Mr Juicy vs Jonah
Rock. This promised to be the show-stealer, but sadly fell rather short.
Technically, it was very sound. But there was no crowd heat whatsoever,
probably because both guys did a serious, Melbourne-style match and didn’t
really play to the crowd (who didn’t know who they were anyway, as they were
mostly casual fans). If Mr Juicy had just done a few minutes of comedy to get
the crowd pumped up and on his side, then this bout could have really clicked
with the crowd. As it was, it was just......THERE.
6. I won’t speak too much about the women’s bout. The
accidental injury to Harley Wonderland was terrible and I’m just glad she’s not
too banged up. However, I will say that Rachel Rose was probably having the
best match I’ve seen her in till the accident happened.
7. The crowd was flat at this point, but the heavyweight
title match between champ Alex Titan (with manager Lord Mark Williamson) and
South Oz’s Damian Slater picked them up again. Just a fantastic main event –
how can you go wrong with a top-level talent like Slater in the ring, right? – with
enough false finishes to put the ending in doubt before Titan finally got the
sneaky three-count. Having a heel go over could have been a down ending for
this card except......
8. Apollo came out, cashed in his Super Contender title
shot, speared Titan and won the belt. Shades of Hogan vs Yokozuna at
WrestleMania IX (or Money In The Bank) and the crowd BLOODY LOVED IT. A
sensational way to close the card and send the crowd home happy. Great booking,
A few final notes... I thought Ed and Jackson meshed better
as a commentary team than they have on previous shows. So that was cool.
Would have been nice to see a few more guys do post-match
interviews – maybe just a quick comment as they went past the commentary desk,
but that’s just a small quibble.
Guest ring announcer Summer was very pretty and wore a nice
FINAL THOUGHTS: Fighting Spirit was a tremendous card,
although the first half was clearly stronger than the second half. Still, every
match was good to great (women’s match aside).
As for the IWA itself, what a remarkable change in this
promotion during the past 18 months. IWA has always been a financial success –
hell, 18 years in existence is testament to that – but now the match quality is
as high as it’s ever been. Seriously, this promotion is amazing when it comes
to talent depth – and that’s not even counting the guys they bring in from
There seems no doubt in my mind that the IWA is, head and
shoulders, the No. 1 promotion in NSW at present and, arguably, one of the top
three in Australia. I can’t wait to see where this newfound momentum takes the
promotion in 2017.