Monday, January 25, 2016

REVIEW: Hunter Valley Wrestling "Ready 2 Rumble" (Club Maitland City, Jan. 23, 2016) or "Leave my son Fergus alone!"

"Leave my illegitimate kid alone, ya bastards!"
CREDIT: Sarah Newman (
I HAD my first opportunity to check out Hunter Valley Wrestling’s first show of 2016, Ready 2 Rumble, last Saturday. If seeing the second-best Royal Rumble of the weekend wasn’t enough of a reason, I was also going to be reuniting with my Poor Horsemen comrades, “Nasty”  Nick Galea, Lord Mark Williamson and Christian “It’s all about da’ money!” Schrammel.

I’d heard good things about HVW, so when the invite came I was keen to check it out.

It was a 2+ hour road trip from Sydney and we arrived late at Club Maitland City or, as I like to think of it, “the RSL that the 1970s never forgot” – seriously, tripe and brains on the bistro menu and a barmaid whose head jewellery and hairdo would not have looked out of place in New York’s Studio 54 c. 1978 (or whatever Maitland’s equivalent was back then). I thought we’d missed at least one match but, no, this is Aussie wrestling so, thankfully, the show hadn’t started on time.

We entered the auditorium to be greeted by a full house of fired-up fans who were booing vociferously and chanting “You tapped out!” at “Jurassic Punk” Syd Parker, who was cutting a promo in the ring.

Falco and Grant Linstrom
CREDIT: Sarah Newman (
Some back story: from what I’ve been told the first year of HVW built up Parker as a monster who held the promotion’s heavyweight title for much of the year. This built up to a big main event in the final show of 2015 where beloved local babyface Falco forced Syd to submit and won the title.

So Parker wasn’t happy and told the fans and babyface commissioner Grant Linstrom that he wanted a rematch with Falco tonight. Linstrom told him to get stuffed and told him he’d instead have a match right now with someone else. This led to an impromptu squash where Syd crushed local guy Johnny Vercetti. It was what it was.

Next came Matt Bailey – that big cuddly babyface – against D-Railer or “Drailer” as we prefer to call him. While I much prefer his cowboy gimmick in IWA, D-Railer’s MMA schtick worked perfectly fine here, especially with his posse of seconds taking lovely bumps for Bailey’s offense, including a DDL Driver to one poor schmuck. D-Railer got the win via ref stoppage which is a novel concept in Aussie wrestling.

The third bout saw “Outlaw” Josh Gatt – the man with the most unfortunate tattoo in the world – taking on Melbourne’s JXT. Gatt is a heel, but JXT is a cocky kid from Victoria so the crowd kinda turned on him. This match didn’t gel as well as I would have liked – probably ’cos Gatt’s still a rookie and JXT is barely removed from rookie status. Still, I’m always impressed by Gatt’s power moves. The dude is STRONG. Gatt got the win and continued with some post-match taunting of the not-present Randal (whose mask he’d stolen on a previous show).

After that was a women’s match. Firstly, I want to say that Kellyanne is one of my fave female wrestlers. Secondly, contrary to what the people around me were suggesting, I do NOT own any of her socks. I believe Paul Jones has them all.

Anyway, Kellyanne took on local lass Tarlee and carried the rookie to an acceptable match. Even better, Kellyanne took the pinfall.

The final match before intermission was a title bout between Keegan and champ Falco. I just want to stop here and give credit to the bookers at HVW. The last time I saw the talented Falco wrestle was several years ago when he was a prelim worker for that godawful CWA group. Then he suffered a bad injury and only came back from it last year. Since then, the bookers have cleverly built Falco up to the point where the guy is over as hell. The pop he got when he came out for this match blew me away.

The contest itself was fun. Keegan is animated – perhaps TOO ANIMATED at times – and played subtle heel to Falco’s uber-babyface. The match ended in a no-contest (I presume) when Parker interfered and attacked Falco. This normally would have been a disappointing conclusion, but as it led to an angle I wasn’t too fussed. Linstrom told Syd he was now in the 25-person rumble, with the winner earning a title shot against Falco, but then stuck it to him by announcing he had the No. 1 spot.

After the break came the main event: HVW’s second annual rumble. Now, I’ve only seen a few non-WWE rumbles and I have to say I thought this one was very well-booked and a lot of fun. It also lasted 45 minutes, which is probably one of the longer matches you’ll ever see in Aussie wrestling.

CREDIT: Sarah Newman (
I can’t say every competitor was great – I seemed to regularly stop and turn to my fellow Horsemen and say, “Who the fucking fuck is that?” when greeted by the sight of Ram Man or Bubbles or my bastard son Fergus Ferguson – or that every moment was champagne wrestling, but it held my attention (and everyone else in the crowd) from start to finish. Even throwing in the chicks told a story, especially when a surprise entrant was adorable referee Mehmet who ran in and nut-shotted everyone till he tried to do the same to Kellyanne. His ballsack paid the price for that error.

CREDIT: Sarah Newman (
Another surprise entrant was IWA heavyweight champ Ryan Eagles who got to act like a dick, beat up a few folk, then get tossed out. Also, Falco himself ran in and took part in the rumble, which had me confused. I mean, if Falco had won the rumble, would he have wrestled himself on the next show? Luckily for my aching brain, he got thrown out.

The rumble told a few key stories. The first one was whether Syd could survive to the end of the match (he didn’t, getting thrown out by mystery entrant Grant Linstrom), then the next point of interest was if No. 2 competitor Alex Titan would win (he got thrown out late in the match, but kudos to the guy for gutting it out with a rib injury and taking some big moves including a Canadian Destroyer from Jackson Spade). The final story saw Syd’s PANIC tag team partner “Psycho Cowboy” Benny Factor battling fan favourite Mikey Lord. Of course, Parker interfered once more to help Benny win the rumble and a title shot.

There was one final angle to come, however. Parker demanded a handicap match for the March show of PANIC vs Falco. Linstrom announced that the title match would instead be a tag match of PANIC vs Falco and a mystery partner. To absolutely NOBODY’S surprise, the mystery partner was Linstrom himself and the pair cleared the ring of PANIC. Sometimes, the obvious move is the right move and the crowd popped huge for this announcement. In a final stipulation, any member of PANIC cna win the belt by pinning either Falco or Linstrom. But if PANIC loses, then Syd Parker is fired from HVW.

It was a helluva entertaining way to end the card and I can see why HVW has a large, loyal fan base. The matches are, by and large, entertaining. There’s a strong mix of local, Sydney and interstate grapplers (they even brought out then-TNA world champ EC3 for their December card). And the booking is simple, logical and builds nicely from show to show.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it takes so fucking long for me to get to and from the Hunter Valley, I’d definitely attend more HVW cards.

I hope they continue to thrive and put on fun shows for many years to come. For more info about future HVW events, check out their Facebook page:

NOTE: I do want to mention some of the great merchandise on sale at the show. T-shirts and photos are beaut, but I always appreciate a wrestler who thinks outside the box. Alex Titan’s mini-plushie keyrings are so cute (I’m using mine as a suppository) while PANIC have their own comic. Fucking brilliant idea, fellas.


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