Explosive Professional Wrestling
November 3, 2018
2018 has undoubtedly been the biggest year of the 21st century for Australian Wrestling. The year kicked off with the New Japan Australia tour, where a selection of Australia’s best took on some of New Japan’s top stars. Following that was the PROGRESS Australia tour, where Australia’s top promotions were presented on an equal level with British Wrestling’s biggest name promotion. Come October, we had WWE’s stadium show—WWE Super Show-Down 2018—at the MCG; a show that was blown away quality wise by Melbourne City Wrestling’s show the night before. Capping off the year the scene’s standout performer Robbie Eagles was brought into NJPW for the Super Junior Tag Tournament and inducted into the latest iteration of Bullet Club.
Explosive Professional Wrestling is the longest running and most successful promotion in Western Australia. Beginning in 2001, the original men and women behind EPW literally built a wrestling scene in the most isolated city in the world. Over its history, EPW has been seen as one of the leading lights of Australian Wrestling (it was where NXT’s The Mighty got their start) and is the home promotion of many of the top talents in the country.
Whilst 2018 has been a year of tremendous highs for Australian Wrestling, it has been a somewhat rocky year for EPW. There have been great highlights, such as the EPWxPROGRESS show (which I thought top to bottom was the strongest card on the tour) and tremendous matches like Gavin McGavin and Julian Ward’s Last Man Standing war in August. At the same time, it felt like the promotion’s momentum stalled over the year and EPW started falling behind other groups like MCW and Sydney’s Pro Wrestling Australia when ranking the country’s top promotions. Issues like slow-burn storylines that took too long to progress, new characters who haven’t gotten over and underperforming newly pushed talent have been apparent throughout the year.
EPW’s biggest issue though was the high school gym they were mostly running; which negatively impacted the atmosphere of shows. Fortunately, Re-Awakening 17 sees EPW moving to their new home base, the Gate One Theatre, which will help the shows look more professional on video and hopefully create a better live atmosphere.
Re-Awakening is EPW’s traditional end-of-year big show and is always one of the biggest events on the Australian Wrestling calendar. Last year’s Re-Awakening is, in my opinion, the strongest show in the company’s history and this year’s card could top it.
Gorgeous Garry & Jonathan Wimbledon vs The Taylor King Taskforce
This match is a late change to the card.
Initially, Gorgeous Garry was meant to be facing Taylor King in the finals of EPW’s Invitational Tournament. Unfortunately, King is currently out of action with a bicep injury and the final is being rescheduled for when he makes his return.
As a replacement, we have Garry teaming up with EPW veteran Jonathan Wimbledon to take on King’s cronies, Tipene and Jack Edwards. Gorgeous Garry has been one of the highlights of the Perth Wrestling scene since making his return at the start of the year. He has worked well in his role as an experienced and energetic babyface who is always able to get a response out of a crowd. His partner Wimbledon is a long-time veteran who has transitioned into a gatekeeper role for new performers.
The Taylor King Taskforce are the personal security team of the Child Star Taylor King and have been an entertaining addition to his gimmick. Tipene is a strong stocky security guard (he’s been described as the Funko Pop version of Jonah Rock.) Edwards is King’s lackey and has excelled at character work this year. This should be a fun tag match, with a strong comedy focus. We are also guaranteed to see EPW’s Rookie of the Year in this match (because Tipene and Edwards are the only rookies nominated.) I am predicting that Garry and Wimbledon should take the win here, if only to keep Garry strong in preparation for the still-to-come Invitational Final. Prediction: Gorgeous Garry and Jonathan Wimbledon
Dan Steel vs ?
At EPW’s last show, Dan Steel came out to make a challenge for Re-Awakening to the mystery assailant who took him out of the Tag Title number one contender’s match at Vendetta. Steel has been teaming with Jarrad Slate and Twitch as The Headhunters and they have been pushed strongly throughout the year. Unfortunately, it appears that both of his teammates are out of action, so he’ll have to continue as a solo act. Fortunately for him, his persona as a vicious nasty brawler seems to be clicking and he looks to be one of the performers with the most potential to break out next year.
The obvious candidate for Steel’s mystery attacker is Jarrad Slate’s former partner Dan Moore. The Nice Guy was taken out of action by Slate at the start of the year, and he ’s got the biggest grudge against the team. Prediction: ?
EPW Tag Team Number One Contendership: AZ Vegara & Jay Taylor vs Kiel Steria & David Nero
This is a match-up between a team looking like they are on the verge of a break-up and a team who look like they could be one of the cornerstones of the EPW Tag Team division.
AZ Vegara and Jay Taylor have spent the year embroiled in an endless feud with Scotty Ryan over the EPW Coastal Championship. They have teamed with each other but constantly get in each other’s way and always seem to be about to start fighting amongst themselves.
Kiel Steria and David Nero have started teaming together over the second half of the year and really seem to be gelling well as a team. Steria is Shane Thorne’s original tag-partner and is an agile powerhouse. Nero is one of the best flying wrestlers in WA. They had a very good match with Street Gang Hooligans at EPW Vendetta and have the potential to be one of the best teams in the state. I expect this to be a fast-paced match-up with the permanent team of Steria and Nero picking up the win. Prediction: Kiel Steria & David Nero
‘The Don’ Michael Morleone vs Hayden Zenith
For over three years, The Don and Hayden Zenith have been tag team partners and stablemates in Generation Zero. At last year’s Re-Awakening, Morleone ascended to main event status with his EPW championship victory over Davis Storm. From there, Zenith’s increasing jealousy over his friend’s success boiled over until he cost Don the belt at Vendetta.
Morleone has been the most consistently strong performer across the West Australian scene this year (as well as being EPW champion, he has spent the year being top champion in Perth’s second biggest promotion New Horizons Pro Wrestling.) Zenith is a good high-flyer who is developing a new heel persona and will be a good addition to EPW’s singles ranks after spending most of his career as a tag wrestler.
I expect a good and heated match here from two workers who know each other very well. Zenith should probably take the win here to give him credibility as a rising heel. Prediction: Hayden Zenith
Julian Ward vs Jonah Rock
Along with Robbie Eagles and Adam Brooks, Jonah Rock is the top name in Australian indie Wrestling. He has been a champion all over the country and made a mark internationally in PWG and Europe. This match is his first time back in EPW since 2015 and he’s facing one of the top young wrestlers in EPW, Julian Ward.
Ward is a graduate of the Storm Wrestling Academy and it’s a real shame that he hasn’t been booked outside WA this year. He has killed it in the high profile positions he’s been put in this year (tagging with Travis Banks on the Progress show and a ****1/2 star match with Gavin McGavin.) He has great babyface fire and the ability to draw a crowd into a match with his selling. Throughout 2018, Ward has ended up in the L column more often than not so this match is a big test for him both in kayfabe and reality.
Jonah is one of the top workers and stars in Australia. I expect him to monster Ward for much of the match, with Ward getting off short bursts of offense throughout the match. On any other EPW card, I’d consider this a lock for MOTN (and it still could be.) I’m assuming that Jonah is going to come out with the win, but I expect this to be a big match for Ward, win or lose. Prediction: Jonah Rock
EPW Championship: Gavin McGavin (c) vs Scotty Ryan
In 2017, Gavin McGavin and Scotty Ryan had a feud over the EPW Coastal Championship that was broadly considered to be the company’s best feud of the year. A year later, Ryan is still Coastal Champion and McGavin is now the EPW Champion. They’re set to face each other for the EPW Championship after Ryan won a shambolic gauntlet match at EPW’s last show (not the fault of any of the wrestlers, the ring completely collapsed and became impossible to work on.)
2018 has been a very different year for both men. McGavin has continued to grow into his role as EPW’s new top heel culminating with him capturing the EPW Championship at Vendetta in a ****1/4 Cage Match with Michael Morleone. Ryan is still the Coastal Champion after beating McGavin last July, however, he feels less over after holding the belt for 400+ days than he did on the night he won it.
The Big Rig has spent most of his title reign mired in cold feuds and disappointing matches (see him vs Jay Taylor on EPWxPROGRESS as an example, the one weak match on that card.) I’m still yet to see him display a higher level of work against anyone but McGavin. Doing Champion vs Champion now (only the EPW title is up for grabs) also feels like an awkward creative choice. McGavin and Ryan are still the only Coastal Champions in the belt’s history and it feels like this match will diminish the achievement of whoever beats Ryan.
This will likely be a good match, but it’s one I find difficult to be excited by. Both men should have a bit of a chip on their shoulder and be motivated to put on a good performance; especially since they are in the EPW title match but not the main event. McGavin is one of the most underrated and best workers in Australia, which will further his desire to have a standout showing here. I expect him to retain here as his big title run is just getting started. Prediction: Gavin McGavin
EPW Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: The Untouchables (c) vs Street Gang Hooligans
A year ago, these two teams had what I consider to be the best match in EPW’s history. The first meeting between The Untouchables and Street Gang Hooligans was the first time I’d experienced the same sort of live wrestling high that I’d gotten from being live at the Omega/Naito match from the 2016 G1 Climax. I would put it right behind Will Ospreay’s series of matches with Adam Brooks and Robbie Eagles as the best Australian match of 2017.
Marcius Pitt and Damian Slater have established themselves over 2017 as the best tag team in Australia. Logan Grey and Alex Kingston have the potential to be the top babyface team in Australia; especially if they get more bookings coming off this match. In February the two teams faced each other in an excellent 3 Stages of Hell match, which is still one of the top Australian matches of 2018.
I would have liked to have seen the Hooligans be booked stronger going into the match, they spent too much of 2018 going 50/50 with the Headhunters whilst The Untouchables have not dropped a match in EPW since the start of the year.
Still, this is four of Australia’s top wrestlers together in a Ladder Match, main eventing their promotion’s biggest match of the year. This has the potential to be something truly special.
My gut is telling me that this is the Street Gang Hooligans night, even if I’d like to see The Untouchables have a longer reign. I don’t think that it is impossible that we will see some sort of screwjob finish; TMDK have been advertising that they are looking at expanding their ranks (Mikey Broderick joined the stable at the last PWA show.) The idea that we could see someone new from EPW join The Untouchables in Australia’s top faction via screwing over the Hooligans is there in the back of my mind. Still, my gut says that the babyfaces are taking the tag belts here. Prediction: Street Gang Hooligans
On paper, EPW Re-Awakening 17 should be one of the strongest Australian shows of the year and a new beginning for one of Australia’s most established promotions. I would strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in the emergent Australian scene check out the show once it is available on VOD.