Monday, March 20, 2017

KISS AND MAKE-UP (a review of IWA's RumbleRock2 @ 99 On York, Sydney (Friday, March 17)

IWA’s “RumbleRock 2” last Friday night at 99 On York in Sydney's CBD was a fun wrestling card coupled with performances by Kissteria, the fattest KISS tribute band in history.
Of greater importance, however, was the fact that this was the final gathering of the Poor Horsemen for possibly a long time. With Ric and Arn having relocated to sunny Melbourne, leaving Tully and Ole behind in Sydney, it would seem the Horsemen are no more, so RumbleRock 2 was our last hurrah...for the time being.
Fuelled by two exquisite-but-lethal cocktails known as Toffee Apples, I headed into the sold-out 99 On York Arena for some RASSLIN’!
Trans-Tasman champ Paris De Silva retained over Kai Drake in the short’n’sharp opening bout. The low ceiling made top-rope spots difficult, so this was far less high flying than you’d expect from these two guys. Still, a perfectly fine way to kick off the show.
The six-man tables match was a cluster-fuck (as you’d expect), but most of the tables behaved the way they were supposed to and the good guys won, so the crowd were happy. I was particularly impressed by newcomer Jackson Kelly. He has size, moves well and he clearly has the gift of the gab. This rookie could be going places and I look forward to seeing how he fares in singles competition.
I headed out during Kissteria’s first performance to catch up with friends and score a free beer from some chick offering us free beers. How could I refuse her generous offer?
I came back part-way through the hair vs hair match between Josh Gatt and Keegan Brettle.
Gatt, who is a tank but was inexplicably the face in this contest, defeated the smaller Keegan, but then got beaten up and had bits of HIS OWN HAIR CUT due to interference from commentator Jackson Johnson. It was a weird heel turn that didn’t work for me. Then again the dynamics of the whole match didn’t work.
Normally, I’d also complain about a promotion that stiffs the crowd out of a match stipulation, but as Australia has virtually no hair vs hair match history to destroy, I don’t think anyone gave a shit. Anyway, this was easily the weakest bout on the show.
Caveman Ugg defeated Turkish Delight after a power move onto a dildo. Not really sure what I can add after that. The bout was weird, crude, there was far too much man-on-man kissing and man-on-dildo mouth action, but the crowd enjoyed it. And there was even a post-bout run-in by Salem as he again put the boots to young Mehmet.
The main event was a very entertaining “first blood” contest between “brothers” Robbie Eagles and Ryan Eagles. Despite bleeding first, Robbie won after hiding his cut under his bandana, and making Ryan juice after a wrench shot.
It was a bit strange to see heels go over in the last two bouts, but I’m sure that was a long-term strategy, building up feuds for coming events.
Kissteria reemerged after seemingly scoffing everything in the dining room to deliver more KISS covers at a reasonable volume so as not to disturb the club’s neighbours. Very thoughtful of them.
That was my cue to leave and hang out with the Poor Horsemen some more. #scotch
All in all, a very enjoyable “adults only” show that probably didn’t need commentary. In fact, dumping the commentators from future RumbleRocks would probably help IWA further differentiate them from their regular “family-friendly” shows. Just a thought.
As for the Poor the South, we shall rise again.

RESULTS: Tran-Tasman Title: Paris De Silva b Kai Drake; Tables Match: Apollo, Randal and “Cowboy” Chris Abbott b Jackson Kelly, Matt Bailey and Alex Titan (w/- Lord Mark Williamson); Hair vs Hair: Josh Gatt b Keegan Brettle; Caveman Ugg b Turkish Delight; First Blood: Robbie Eagles b Ryan Eagles

Monday, March 06, 2017

FIVE STARS: the wrestling zine is now available on PDF

IN WHICH I review every goddamn match that's been named Match Of The Year in the prestigious Wrestling Observer Newsletter from 1980 to 2016.
You can download a PDF of Five Stars HERE.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

REVIEW: Wrestling GO! presents “Golympic Games” (Marayong Community Centre, March 4)

SEEMINGLY by accident, Wrestling GO has become my local promotion by default. I've been to their past three shows and enjoyed the booking (in general) and the matches (mostly). Sure, it's flawed - but name an Aussie promotion that DOESN'T have flaws?
Despite a less-than-stellar January card, I was enticed to attend last night's event, Golympic Games, because they announced they'd hold a Royal Rumble. I'm a sucker for Rumbles, so I had to see it.
The subsequent announcement that Melbourne's Mr Juicy would be tagging with his illegitimate son Mehmet the Turkish Delight against Big Fudge and Concrete Davidson was just (chocolate) icing on the cake.
Despite the shitty, rainy weather, I set out last night for the show. After getting lost (again) trying to find the Marayong Community Centre - that place is as well-hidden in suburbia as a venue can be - I arrived a bit late and the Rumble had already started. 
I was impressed by the crowd turn-out considering the miserable evening. It's a small venue, but the place was close to full. Maybe 100 people, I'm guessing.
I missed the opening bout - Sean Kustom vs Del Cano - but I heard it was a solid affair, as you'd expect if it involved Kustom.
The Rumble itself was a hoot - it went for an hour and featured a ton of entertaining storylines. These included a hilarious run of pins in the middle that saw the Watermelon Trophy change hands numerous times (the eventual winner was Concrete Davidson, who later handed it to Big Fudge). Massive Q was great as an unstoppable monster. Caveman Ugg is always funny (and scary strong). Mick Moretti was a constant crack-up. I liked some of the rookies' gimmicks. And it's always cool to see Shazza McKenzie (her apologising to boyfriend Unsociable Jordan before kicking him repeatedly in the chest was a highlight).
And then came entrant No. 30: PIKACHU...and he even did a moonsault! As if I couldn't love this Royal Rumble any more than I already did! 
Luciano and Moretti were the first two competitors - and I thought they'd be the final two, but they went out right near the end and we were left with Unsociable Jordan from SMS and Gatt from Wrestling NO. Jordan went on to win and became the first Wrestling GO silver medallist. It was an unexpected but neat ending to a fun Rumble where every wrestler got to shine a little bit.
After intermission came the only disappointment of the night - Mr Juicy was unable to catch his flight to Sydney from Melbourne and wasn't on the card. So Big Fudge and Concrete wrestled VIP instead. This was a fine comedy bout, although it probably went a few minutes too long. Still, I enjoy the shtick of all four competitors very much.
The main event - the gold medal final in the Go For Gold Tournament - was the culmination of several qualifying matches over previous shows.
You had the intensity of youngster Kai Drake against the surly, disrespectful veteran Ryan Eagles.
I loved this match so much, but then I'm a heel fan from way back. Eagles mocked Kai's war paint by painting his face like a pussycat. He than channeled the spirit of Larry Zbyszko and stalled for at least 15 minutes.
He later paid for this by being kicked half to death by Drake. Both men then stepped up the action and it was pretty fucking furious.
We even got juice on Eagles (courtesy of a wayward screw on a folding chair that was planted on his head) before he scored an upset pin with a roll-up.
What can I say? This was a helluva fun show. 
Going into last night's event, I had doubts on whether I'd be back for another Wrestling GO event after Golympics, but I was so entertained that I'm almost certainly returning for the April 2 show in Marayong.
Kudos to everyone involved for winning me over.

RESULTS: Sean Kustom b Del Cano; Unsocial Jordan won the 30-person Royal Rumble battle royal; Big Fudge & Concrete Davidson b VIP; Go For Gold final: Ryan Eagles b Kai Drake

Monday, January 30, 2017

REVIEW: Wrestling GO! presents “(500) Fights Of Summer” (Marayong Community Centre, January 29)


RECENTLY, I read a review of Florida wrestling’s “Battle Of The Belts II” event from 1986 – the one main-evented by Ric Flair vs Barry Windham, which was named the Wrestling Observer’s Match Of The Year for ’86 – and there was a comment that stuck in my head: “I cannot stress the term ‘show saver’ enough when it comes to the main event”.
I felt the same way after watching Wrestling GO!’s “(500) Fights Of Summer” – the main event of Kai Drake vs Mick Moretti was so freaking good that it salvaged what was, otherwise, a sub-par event.
I went to this card because I won free tix at the previous event last November, but there were points during the first half of this card that I felt like demanding my money back.
The afternoon started promisingly enough with a crowd of around 80 (well up on the previous show) there to see Foghorn Leghorn replaced by the infinitely better Robert Oxley as GO!’s new ring announcer. He did a fine job, too, despite being plagued by dodgy microphones.
Riley O'Neil opened the show with a looooong interview. Not sure why, but this guy doesn’t do sincerity well, even when introducing his ex-tag team partner Bee Boy. Seriously, he was turning heel before Ryan Eagles arrived to put him out of his misery. Eagles is always entertaining but Bee Boy seemed off for this Go For Gold Tournament bout (maybe he was injured). Eagles won to progress to the Go For Gold Tournament final in March. Solid opening bout.
Next came the first of two squashes for the arvo. It’s always fun to watch Matt Bailey kill rookies and this was no exception. Bailey is such a DICK in these situations.
Afterwards, Luciano gave another looooong interview. Fuck me, I thought I was watching an AWF show for a moment there. Anyway, the gist of his promo was that he was putting up his Silver Medal (which he won at a previous show) in a 30-man Royal Rumble on the March show. OK, I’m a sucker for Royal Rumbles, so I’m definitely coming to the next show.
Sadly, this is where the card fell off a cliff. I’ve thought and re-thought how I should word what I’m going to say next about the six-man tag. After much consideration – and being fully aware that every single person involved in this bout could kick my arse six times over – let me just be as diplomatic as I can and say that the match was FUCKING HORRIBLE.
And the guys involved know that. Right?
It went for far too long and the ending was beyond terrible – and I’m not even gonna blame the rookie referee who tried really hard and worked his arse off all day – this has to fall on the guys who came up with that ending. It wasn’t a tornado match so how can THREE guys apply a submission hold on one guy and score the victory without being DQed? Even by pro-wrestling logic, that was pretty bloody stupid.
While technically better, I had even more problems with the following bout. Now, I’m no fan of mixed gender bouts, but I’ve seen them work in the past. Michelle K. Hasluck, Madison Eagles and Shazza McKenzie have all done it successfully. Hell, even the Floozies did a passable mixed gender bout with VIP last November. Of course, those two teams are about the same size and height.
But the gals working against the far taller SMS was beyond ridiculous. And then you had the guys HITTING the gals (who were heels on this show, even though they were faces on the last show). No wonder the crowd was (a) confused, (b) quiet and (c) uncomfortable. Sorry, folks, but babyface males who punch chicks are automatically HEELS. End of story.
As for VIP dressed in cop uniforms at ringside...all I can say is that they are now the GAYEST tag team in Australia. Seriously, those cossies look like they came straight from The Tool Shed.
Anyway, this match dragged and DIDN’T WORK.
Intermission was followed by Big Fudge and Mehmet The Turkish Delight coming to the ring to open a package they’d received from Mexico that contained a sombrero, poncho, corn chips...and their watermelon plushie. Yes, luchador Australian Suicide had relinquished the title back to Fudge and Mehmet. Next came what I call the Watermelon Gauntlet with Fudge and Mehmet defending the watermelon against three opponents. None of the bouts outstayed their welcome and the comedy was pretty good. It was a shock to see Massive Q come out as the winner.
This was followed by another entertaining squash with Caveman Ugg crushing Diego, then carrying his carcass back to the locker room. Just so much fun. To me, Diego was the surprise of the afternoon – he was very good in his role and quite amusing, too.
Finally, we had the main event, another Go For Gold Tournament bout with the winner earning the right to face Eagles in the final. This was a hellacious bout – Kai Drake is going to be a superstar one day. Nasty Nick reckons Mick Moretti is the best wrestler in NSW. He’d certainly be in my top three.
It was a brutal affair with lots of kicks, submission holds and some innovative outside-the-ring brawling. It was the match that saved the show and was enough for me to give “(500) Fights Of Summer” a thumbs up.
One other observation. Kay fabe may be dead, but there’s no need to go to the graveyard, stand over the coffin and piss in the corpse’s open mouth. Seeing a heel hanging out at the concession stand during the intermission, or seeing another heel watching the main event at the canteen is a bit much. Or am I being very fucking old-fashioned when it comes to that sorta thing?
Ah well...
I can’t say I like everything that Wrestling GO! has to offer – some of the lucha comedy falls flat or sits uneasily next to the strong-style bouts and man-on-women violence. And there’s certainly room for some “editing” and “tweaking’ of the mid-card bouts. Shorter is sometimes better, yeah?
But the booker tells good stories and has a clear direction of where he wants things to go. This group is certainly very different to what is being offered by other promotions in Sydney and I really hope it keeps going.
Roll on March and the Royal Rumble at “Wrestling GO-lympics!” (Love that name by the way.)

Go For Gold Tournament Match: Ryan Eagles b Bee Boy; Matt Bailey b Luciano; Wrestling NO! b Keegan, Paris & Jason Dewhurst; The Floozies b SMS; Watermelon Gauntlet: Big Fudge & Mehmet the Turkish Delight b KASAI; Fudge & Mehmet b Jack Bonza; Massive Q b Fudge & Mehmet; Caveman Ugg b Diego, Go For Gold Tournament Match: Kai Drake b Mick Moretti.

Monday, December 12, 2016

WWCBD? ep. 39: The Last Stampede

DON'T shed a tear, but this is the final What Would Chris Benoit Do? podcast featuring our legendary co-host Lord Mark Williamson. Yes, after being a long-time Sydney fixture, his Lordship is taking his special brand of villainy south to Melbourne next year.
But never fear - he and I go out in grand style with our WWCBD? awards for 2016, including the much-anticipated Shit Kent Of The Year.
Lord Williamson also has a very special challenge for AWE promoter and midget wrestler Sammy "Psykotic" Russo. Will he accept this challenge? It's for charity, Sammy!!!!

Of course, it's not all negativity (as much as you cunts love that) - we also talk a lot about all the GOOD things in Aussie wrestling, including Evie vs Kellyanne in MCW's recent end-of-year extraganza, Wrestling GO! and IWA's big show in Penrith in October.
Dowie James, Preston & Payne, Krackers & Lochie...we praise them all. Aren't we nice? 

Anyway, stealing a great idea from the 6:05 Superpodcast, below are the time stamps in case you want to jump to a certain section and hear you or your mates getting bitched out. :)

  • Lord Mark Williamson explains why he's moving to Melbourne and his plans for 2017. (0:00:30)
  • We pay our respects to the late Mario Milano (0:06:00)
  • The recent retirements of Bishop Sommers and Kyote are noted. (0:10:50)
  • We chat briefly about the NXT tour Down Under and the improvement in the quality of Aussie wrestlers in the past 10 years. (0:18:20)
  • Next is a review of the brilliant IWA Fighting Spirit supercard in Penrith in October, raving about the likes of Syd Parker and Robbie Eagles. We also discuss how the hell great wrestlers Mr Juicy and Jonah Rock managed to misfire in their match. WTF? (0:25:00)
  • Mark talks up the exciting new business venture that is the Pacific Fight Network. (0:39:30)
  • More praise for Aussie wrestlers, in particular Evie who got an NXT try-out in Melbourne. I also ramble incoherently about The Enforcer and "that Asian guy with the kickpads", because I'm an idiot. (0:44:00)
  • My glowing review of Wrestling GO!'s late November card in western Sydney. Just a pity nobody watched it, "Kiss Stealin'" Johnny Whelan. C'mon, dude! (0:49:50)
  • Melbourne super-fan Sue Chuter's new international cult status via the 6:05 Superpodcast. (0:57:30) 
  • The Wide Bay Pro Wrestling debut show on November 26 and the joy it brought to so many people who watched it on streaming video on YouTube. How WBPW brought the pro wrestling community together for one joyous evening on WWCBD. I also ridicule Aris Cuntsaras and his tag team partner Mr Fuckstick (aka AK-16). Much laughter ensues. "No suplex!" (1:03:00)
  • The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame and why Dave Meltzer unilaterally put a triple murderer in the HOF. (1:19:20)
  • We get the positive categories out of the way for the WWCBD? 2016 Awards. Did YOUR favourite win? (1:23:50)
  • And the BIG one: the WWCBD? Shit Kent Of The Year for 2016. Nominees include Psykotik Sammy Russo, some dickhead from New Zealand and the two cunts who run (ran?) Wide Bay Pro Wrestling. Lord Mark makes a charity boxing challenge to Sammy, who we anticipate will be too gutless to accept it. And history is made when it comes to the WINNER of this year's award. (And, yes, AV's fuckbuggery with Chaos Championship Wrestling's "TV tapings" happened THE DAY AFTER we did this podcast. Shit happens, eh......and mainly in Queensland. (1:37:10)
It's arguably the world's second longest wrestling podcast and it took us nearly FOUR FUCKING HOURS and THREE LOCATIONS to complete it, so FUCKING APPRECIATE IT!!!
You can download it HERE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

SHOW REVIEW: Wrestling GO! Friends4Ever (Marayong Community Centre, Sunday, November 27)

ATTENDING Wrestling GO! last Sunday afternoon felt surreal. The previous night I’d watched parts of the live streaming feed of Wide Bay Pro Wrestling’s debut show in Gympie, Qld. It was a complete debacle watched by 12 bemused fans. Far more people saw the streaming feed on YouTube in bemusement and horror, including myself. The inept organisation, the terrible booking, the shitty wrestling and an unnecessary over-abundance of pleather all contributed in making this arguably the WORST SHOW I’VE EVER SEEN. EVER.
The following afternoon I drove to Marayong in western Sydney and saw a fantastic card, Friends4Ever, that featured some of Australia’s best wrestlers and promising up’n’comers PLUS a bona fide international superstar.
And yet less than 50 punters – half of them non-paying family and friends of the workers – bothered to turn up. It hardly seemed fair. Shit event draws fuck-all. Great event barely out-draws them.
Promoter John “Bee Boy” Whelan has clearly put a lot of effort into the show itself. He pays for top talent. He puts together entertaining promotional clips and entrance videos. His booking is fine. The in-ring action is an entertaining mix of comedy lucha and serious strong-style wrestling.
So it must be frustrating for him and everyone involved to see all that good work go to waste.
Before I continue I have to digress and discuss one minor subject. The ring announcer is good – he’s confident and projects his voice well – so why does he adopt a fake US redneck accent? It sounds stupid. Besides which, he does a SHITTY, half-arsed job anyway – by the end of the show, he could barely keep up the accent. Listen, Foghorn Leghorn, either believe in your character and go hard 100% or pack it away and use your regular voice.
That rant aside, let’s look at how the card went down.
The show began with Riley O’Neil coming out to address the crowd about his injury, a “slipping disc” is what he told us. Mick Moretti then came out to threaten him and hurt him in their GO For Gold tourney match, but former AAA superstar Australian Suicide – which remains the most UNFORTUNATE name in the wrestling biz today – came out to make the save and set up the main event. Ryan Eagles was advertised as AS’s opponent but no-showed. Honestly, as much as I love Eagles’ shtick, the match-up was improved by the switch to Moretti.
The opening bout was a classic ROH Scramble-style eight-man tag spot-fest. It was cool to see lil’ Josh Shooter (only NOT so little anymore) up from Melbourne and having a blast in this bout. Ugg impressed as always with his incredible feats of strength. He was suplexing and ragdolling people all over the place. Who’s the strongest man in Aussie wrestling right now: Ugg or Gatt? It’d be a toss-up, I suggest. Lots of funny bits and high spots – a great way to kick off the afternoon.
Next came a GO For Gold tourney bout that saw the impressive Kai Drake beat Bee Boy half to death before getting a KO win. This was a very different style of match from Bee Boy – far more serious than I’ve usually seen him – and it kinda worked. I admire how Bee Boy doesn’t put himself over just ’cos he’s the promoter. That’s admirable.
The third bout was a tag match with two sets of BFFs going at it. Now, normally, I hate inter-gender bouts, but as the Floozies and VIP are roughly the same size it didn’t bother me. This was a solid tag match that saw the dudes steal the win. I love VIP’s gimmick – they are tremendous as cocky, cowardly heels.
After intermission came a handicap bout with the at-odds combo of Big Fudge and Turkish Delight taking on the sinister threesome from Wrestling NO, Liam Rudge, Gatt and Alcover Vyse. This was a really fun – there’s that word again – bout. Who knew Gatt did comedy? Anyway, the trio won the 24/7 watermelon plushie (don’t ask), then immediately lost it back to Fudge and Turkish because...y’ has to be defended 24/7.
Finally, came the main event and this was a really cool bout – some comedy, some lucha, some high spots and AS went over with a moonsault on a bent-over Moretti. My only bugbear? I wish it had gone longer than 12 minutes. Still, it was fantastic to see AS in action again in this country and Moretti is always good value.
So there you have it. Wrestling Go! Friends4Ever was a very enjoyable show. So why did virtually nobody go see it? Well, I guess advertising on the internet and via social media just DOESN’T cut it with casual fans in 2016.
Bee Boy has to go back to the drawing board and find other ways to make fans aware and get them interested enough to attend his events. Otherwise, this promising promotion is gonna vanish and I would hate to see that happen.
There’s one thing I can tell you, however, and it’s that *I* will be in attendance at the next Wrestling GO! show on January 29.
Well.....I HAVE to attend – I won two free tix in the raffle. :)

RESULTS: Wrestling GO! Friends4Ever (Marayong Community Centre, Sunday, November 27): Caveman Ugg/Luciano DaVinci b SMS, Paris/Keegan and Kasai/Josh Shooter (Four Corners Elimination Match); Kai Drake b Bee Boy (GO For Gold Round Robin Tournament Match); VIP b The Floozies; Wrestling NO b Big Fudge/Turkish Delight; Big Fudge/Turkish Delight b Wrestling NO; Australian Suicide b Mick Moretti

The ring announcer for Wrestling GO!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

SHOW REVIEW: IWA Fighting Spirit (Penrith Panthers World Of Entertainment, October 14, 2016)

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 last Friday.
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 round. :)
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, IWA.
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 red dress.
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 interstate.

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.