In the middle of the year, Aussie wrestler Mick Moretti made a Facebook video while on a tour in the United States. It was aimed to increase conversation about the Australian scene (and also help Moretti get some US bookings).
— Mick Moretti ? (@fullrapscallion) June 2, 2017
While Moretti didn’t breakout in the United States (still a talented wrestler), the catchcry ‘YoureGonnaNoticeUs’ has become a popular hashtag in promoting the Australia & New Zealand indies. It has been used wrestlers, promoters and fans across social media.
It’s no secret that there has been quality wrestlers from the region for years. It has been a great source of talent for WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling, UK indies and more but there hasn’t been much emphasis on the scene itself in international circles. That is until this year as the Australian scene proved that it can produce high quality matches and shows. The region showed that it was a place that has great wrestling rather than just a place which had talented wrestlers going to greener pastures to have great matches and be in great shows.
This was a year where Oceanic wrestling got more exposure on an international scale and it is setting up for an interesting 2018. A NJPW Australia tour has been announced and is undoubtedly going to help bring more eyes to Australian wrestling.
Australia and New Zealand could be the next breakout scene (similar to the UK a few years ago), however, there are certain geographical and resource obstacles to overcome for the scene to go into the next gear.
For those interested in jumping into the region or those who are fans, I present to you a list of awards to recognize the true greatness of the region in 2017.
Best Promotion: Melbourne City Wrestling (MCW)
Honourable Mentions: Explosive Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Australia, Wrestle Rampage
MCW is a clear winner in this category.
MCW has been the benchmark for Australian wrestling and the main promotion that has been driving international buzz. They have produced many of the best matches in the scene during 2017 and have shown excellent production and booking in their shows. MCW has partnerships and deals with the likes NJPW and PROGRESS, which seems to beneficial for all parties in trying to grow their brands.
Western Australia’s Explosive Pro Wrestling were my number two pick. They are the brthplace of TMDK had their strongest year (both in-ring and business wise) and cap it off by being the newest promotion on the Demand PROGRESS service.
New South Wales’ Pro Wrestling Australia had a great year with their CHIKARA-like shows and great talent, highlighted by bringing over the likes of Will Ospreay for a match and Mike Quackenbush as a guest. Unfortunately, PWA’s lack of online footage had put them out of contention for the award.
South Australia’s Wrestle Rampage was driven by great Jonah Rock title run and are producing a large crop of young talent from their highly reputable dojo.
Best Show: MCW November Rain
Honourable Mentions: Explosive Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Australia, Wrestle Rampage
November Rain takes the award for best show, but not just for the fact that Kazuchika Okada made an appearance. Okada didn’t phone it in and had a great contest with MCW’s returning star Slex. Although, that was only one of the best matches on the card. Robbie Eagles vs Caveman Ugg was a great David vs Goliath match & Dowie James vs Adam Brooks was another banger in their incredible rivalry.
MCW New Horizons was another one of MCW’s biggest and most important shows with a loaded line-up with featured two great title matches (Will Ospreay vs Robbie Eagles vs Adam Brooks & Dowie James vs Jonah Rock). It happened on the weekend when the NJPW Melbourne tryouts were taking place and NJPW officials were watching that show. Needless to say, they left a good impression.
PWA Call to Arms was a very fun and entertaining affair where even the weaker matches were well booked and structured. The show had a killer opener with hoss wrestlers Jonah Rock & Caveman Ugg battering each other. It also had the acclaimed Eagles vs Ospreay.
EPW ReAwakening 16 was an excellent way for the promotion to finish off their year. Street Gang Hooligangs (Logan Grey & Alex Kingston) & The Untouchables (Marcius Pitt & Damian Slater) tore the house down with their tag match. It was so impressive that Dave Meltzer had quoted those four guys are the next Australian wrestlers to breakout. Davis Storm & Michael Morleone heated feud for the EPW championship had reached its climax with a Street Fight & ended with the underdog Morleone winning his first major title in his 12 year career. It was one of EPW’s most emotional moments in their history.
Best Match: Will Ospreay vs Adam Brooks
Honourable Mentions: Will Ospreay vs Adam Brooks vs Robbie Eagles, Will Ospreay vs Robbie Eagles, Dowie James vs TK Cooper
Will Ospreay’s short stint in Australia was phenomenal. He only had three matches, but they were arguably the three best matches to have taken place on Australian soil. Each match had crazy athleticism, big spots, intense sequences and dynamic moments. Ospreay is one of the best wrestlers in the world and he certainly showed it this year. That’s not to take away from Robbie Eagles & Adam Brooks, who had career-defining performances. The Ballroom Brawl match was the best of the three and a big turning point for Brooks, who started to become a fan favourite in MCW after that match with his ‘Loose Ledge’ persona and world-class talent. Brooks would then become one of the most in-demand Australian wrestlers by getting bookings with PWG, PROGRESS & Revolution Pro.
Robbie Eagles came across a cunning and tactical high-flyer which coined him the nickname ‘Sniper of the Skies’. Special mention to the Dowie James vs TK Cooper match, with a great showing by Cooper & Dahlia Black (aka the South Pacific Power Couple) who looked like stars as the arrogant and dastardly couple trying to desperately win at all costs. Dowie James was great as the plucky underdog who took every big move & underhanded tactic in their playbook.
Best International Wrestler (based overseas): Toni Storm
Honourable Mentions: Travis Banks, Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher), Jay White
This award is for the AUS/NZ wrestler that has made the biggest impact outside of Australasia. It was tough deciding between Storm or Banks for the award. While I think that Travis has had a better in-ring year, Toni gets the award for her work in Europe, Japan and WWE’s Mae Young Classic. Storm is the most in-demand women’s wrestler in Europe and became the first PROGRESS women’s championship in June. Also in September, Storm was the first foreigner to win, the biggest prize in Joshi wrestling: the World of Stardom championship..She made many new fans at the Mae Young Classic with her standout look and wrestling ability, reaching the semi-final before losing to eventual winner Kairi Sane.
Travis Banks won the PROGRESS champion on their biggest show at Alexandra Palace and is considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the UK with his high intensity and hard-hitting offence. He also won the Fight Club Pro championship, Lucha Forever championship & was one half of the RevPro tag champions with fellow CCK member Chris Brooks. Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher came to the UK earlier in the year & have quickly become the hottest prospects in the scene with their tag team called Aussie Open. Their loveable personalities & consistently energetic performances have made them a hit in promotions like Attack Pro, Fight Club Pro, PROGRESS etc.
Jay White had a great excursion with mainly ROH & RevPro where he showed much potential, which resulted in him being quickly slotted into a big program with Hiroshi Tanahashi at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12.
Best Native Wrestler (based in the region): Jonah Rock
Honourable Mentions: Adam Brooks, Robbie Eagles, Dowie James
This award goes to the wrestler who has made the biggest impact in Australasia. Close call between Rock, Brooks, Eagles & James. Looking back at my list of best matches in the region, more than half of those matches feature at least one of those guys. Jonah Rock gets the nod for winning three different championships across three states (Australian National Championship in South Australia, MCW Championship in Victoria & IWA Championship in New South Wales) and being the first Australian in PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournament. Adam Brooks & Robbie Eagles had great years as they both won the PWA championship & MCW Intercommonwealth championship. Dowie James showed that he’s arguably MCW’s most consistent performer and held the MCW championship twice during the year (as well as winning the second MCW Invitational tournament).
For those looking to catch up or recap the year for the region, here’s a list of the best matches of 2017:
1. Will Ospreay vs Adam Brooks – MCW Ballroom Brawl
2. Will Ospreay vs Adam Brooks vs Robbie Eagles – MCW New Horizons
3. Will Ospreay vs Robbie Eagles – PWA Call To Arms
4. Dowie James vs TK Cooper – MCW Fight To Survive
5. Adam Brooks vs Robbie Eagles – MCW Final Battle
6. Dowie James vs Adam Brooks – MCW November Rain
7. Dowie James vs Adam Brooks – MCW Clash of the Titans
8. 4 Corners of Hell: KrackerJak vs Lochy Hendricks – MCW Final Battle
9. The Street Gang Hooligans (Logan Grey & Alex Kingston) vs The Untouchables (Marcius Pitt & Damian Slater) – EPW ReAwakening
10. Jonah Rock vs AJ Istria – WR Revolution
11. Steel Cage: Jonah Rock vs Dowie James – MCW Final Battle
12. Kazuchika Okada vs Slex – MCW November Rain
13. Falls Count Anywhere: Mr Juicy vs Elliot Sexton – MCW Keep it 100
14. Street Fight: Davis Storm vs Michael Morleone – EPW ReAwakening
15. Marcius Pitt vs Alex Kingston – EPW Goldrush
16. Jonah Rock vs Damian Slater – WR Moment of Truth
17. Jonah Rock vs Caveman Ugg – PWA Call to Arms
18. Jonah Rock vs Dowie James – MCW New Horizons
19. No Disqualification: pAnic vs The Brat Pack – MCW Ascension
20. Will Ospreay vs Shane Sinclair – SPW Southern Rumble
21. Southern Rumble Match – SPW Southern Rumble
22. Steel Cage: Gavin McGavin vs Scotty Ryan – EPW Hell Or Highwater
23. Robbie Eagles vs Caveman Ugg – MCW November Rain
24. Dowie James vs Robbie Eagles vs Trent Seven – MCW Seven N2
25. Dowie James vs Mike Burr – MCW Seven N1