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’know...it 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.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Highspots second-chance box: THE OPENING

I KNEW what was in the Highspots mystery box - not much of  mystery then - but it looked so cool I HAD to get it. Let's see what's inside.



 Looks intriguing.


Holy Mother of God! Five years ago I would have been pissed to have a Drew McIntyre T-shirt, but now? I am fucking stoked! :)


Three DVDs and all look like winners. I love the current incarnation of Pro Wrestling Guerilla, so this disc of PWG All-Star Weekend Night Two should be great.
The Funk Family two-disc set should be incredible.
Finally, I cannot wait to listen to Rob Naylor chat with my fave wrestler in Hitting The Highspots: Will Ospreay
These should be fantastic. :)

Here's the main reason I bought this box: PWG BOLA 2016 trading cards!!!
Very, very, very fucking noice!

A Konnan photo, clearly signed by the man when he was "under the weather".

And an English wrestling sheet/mag with high-quality paper and great production values. I haven't read it yet but the photography is lovely and some of the pages are in full colour, too. Score!
FINAL COMMENT: The box cost me around AUD$125. By my reckoning, it's around AUD$150 value (depending on how you value an autograph clearly scribbled by Konnan while under the influence and a Drew McIntyre t-shirt). So it's reasonable value under any circumstances. However, as I loved EVERYTHING about this box, then I'd say it was AWESOME VALUE.
Not sure if I'd recommend Highspots boxes to overseas customers due to the high postage costs, but the occasional one-off is fun, especially if you know the contents and expect to like 100% of the contents.
Of course, once the Aussie dollar inevitably rises towards parity with the greenback, then you'll find me buying loads more of these boxes, I suspect.
RATING: A big five stars out of five!

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Zealand wrestling scrapbook (c.1940s)


Kiwi grappler Lofty Blomfield wrestles an elephant (as you do)

Enjoy! Find it HERE.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BLAST FROM THE PAST: "Confessions Of A Ring Rat" (Betty Paginated, 1998)



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What Would Chris Benoit Do? The Sheet: Issue 2 (Winter, 2016)


BECAUSE Nick demanded it. :)

Download the PDF HERE.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

It's the first issue of WHAT WOULD CHRIS BENOIT DO? ... and it's FREE!


Yes, to celebrate the upcoming publication of the second issue of my zine What Would Chris Benoit Do?, I'm re-releasing the first issue as a PDF for FREE, so you can get a taste of what this publication is all about.
If you want to get your hands on WWCBD? #2, drop me an email at "danhelen" [at] "idx.com.au".

Download the PDF to issue one HERE.