Welcome once again to The Claw HQ for the fourth episode of Underworld Wrestling. This is the first episode from the tapings on November 16th. Generally, I think a one hour show is a better fit for Underworld than going an hour and a half like their first episode did. Unfortunately, this is the weakest episode of the series so far; with a particularly disappointing first half. This episode suggests that it’s going to take some time for the promotion to find their footing in being able to put together a compelling product.
The show opens with a clip of the intro vignette we saw for reality show winner Mike E at the end of episode three. In the ring are our commentary team of Lord Andy Coyne and Mohammad Ali Vaez, who welcome the ‘lucky’ winner to Underworld Wrestling.
We have some back and forth between the enthusiastic Mike E and the commentary team. Mohammad Ali Vaez quizzes Mike E on his desire to ‘put Australian Wrestling on the map’ which: (picture me sighing here as I prepare to explain this) turns into an inside baseball joke about how Vaez is the Australian promoter for House of Hardcore tours and that Tommy Dreamer pissed most of Australian Wrestling off by claiming to have ‘put Australia on the map’ with his nostalgia shows. Vaez’s delivery is fine, but it highlights a weakness I’ve seen pop up multiple times in Underworld. For a promotion that is meant to be aiming at a worldwide audience, they should just cut these little Australian wrestling scene jokes or references from the finished product. Only about 10 people get them (myself being one of those) and they don’t add anything to the television product.
Anyways, Carlo Cannon then comes out to kill the poor kid.
Carlo Cannon def. Mike E
The episode’s first match pits Carlo Cannon in his return against poor Mike E. In real life, Mike E is one of the student’s from Cannon’s training school (the main source of Underworld’s minor characters.) Mike E demonstrates some promise with his brief flurry of offence, including some nice looking flying head scissors. Carlo quickly stops that flurry and starts monstering the kid. The highlight of the match is a giant release German where Mike E got more air than I’ve ever seen anyone else get on the move. Carlo decimates him, giving up a guaranteed submission off a half-crab so he can KO the kid with the Lariat.
Carlo Cannon picks up the win by KO, therefore gaining the two points he needs to challenge Pitbull for the Underworld Championship. Mike E is carried out of the ring afterwards with his Dad jumping the barricade to help him to the back.
In the ring, Carlo Cannon does a short promo to make it clear that he wants his chance at the title he had to forfeit. He is interrupted by Zhan ‘GWOC’ Wen who comes out wanting to challenge his trainer. Carlo mostly laughs him off, telling his student to go earn the points to be worthy of a rematch.
Throughout this whole opening segment; Carlo Cannon kind of comes off as a dick which is problematic for the promotion’s lead babyface. I sometimes get the feeling that Underworld is going for Russoesque shades of grey approach with no clear heroes or villains. It is a dynamic that makes it somewhat more difficult to get invested in the promotion’s stories and characters.
Next, we go to a vignette of Pitbull and Mad Dog kvetching about the changes to Underworld. Pitbull would rather go back to the days of having to chase rats out of his gearbag than putting up with pretty boys taking promo pictures backstage. Mad Dog is then confronted by Krackerjack and his ‘brother’ Gore, making their debuts with Underworld. Krackerjack retired at the end of 2017 and recently took up commentary duties at Melbourne City Wrestling. He also manages Gore in some of Melbourne’s minor promotions. Krackerjack is still the best talker in Australia, and it was a smart move by Underworld to bring him on board.
Following on, we have a promo where Slickback Cash drops some Lanny Poffo style poetry to hype up his match with Simon Oath, interspersed with public-domain clips from Kung Fu films.
Sagat Pyro def. Sam Cannon
Queenslander Sam Cannon is returning to Underworld after his cromulent match with Slade Mercer in Episode Two. His opponent comes out under a robe and is introduced by Lord Mark Williamson, who gives the spiel about how this man had previously been on a lifetime ban from Underworld. The robe is lifted to reveal: Muay Thai Dowie James.
Dowie James is one of Australia’s top wrestlers and a multi-time champion throughout the country. In Underworld Wrestling, he is playing the character of Sagat Pyro. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that this was a particularly effective debut for the character. The match ran too long and for too much of it, Pyro was going 50/50 with a guy he should have monstered. The chemistry between the wrestlers doesn’t really gel and a thick guy like Sam Cannon felt like the wrong match-up to debut a killer Muay Thai specialist. The match ends in about eight minutes, with Pyro getting an MMA style KO with repeated knee strikes. I came away thinking that they should have switched opponents around for the first two matches. Pyro should have murdered Mike E and Carlo could have had a competitive match with the Queenslander.
Post-match we go backstage where Williamson and Pyro are talking. An irate Gino Gambino enters the scene, angry at his ally for bringing in Pyro. Gambino asks, “Who the fuck is this guy?” and the audience is meant to believe that Gambino doesn’t recognize the man he beat to win the MCW Championship.
Obviously, for an audience watching the show on Amazon Prime who don’t know any other Australian wrestlers, this inconsistency isn’t really an issue. However, I think it points out a problem that Underworld shares with Lucha Underground. The show can’t really decide how much they want to acknowledge the wrestling world outside their bubble. Is it a completely self-contained universe? Why do some people’s careers outside Underworld count and others don’t? It is a logical inconsistency which would have been helped to be smoothed over if Sagat Pyro was at least wearing a Mortal Kombat style half-mask.
Next-up we cut away to Krackerjack playing around on his phone when he’s interrupted by Underworld Champion Vixsin who is looking for her challenger Avary. Krackerjack tells her that Avary is off having a meeting with Williamson and Vixsin leaves in a huff. This is the only moment on the show that is meant to build up the upcoming women’s title match.
Then we go to the worst segment in Underworld’s short history. Simon Oath is shown sitting on an exercise bike at the Vicious Pursuit gym where he is approached by backstage worker Justine. They have a long awkward conversation which starts off with a digression about how Zack Gibson uses the same finish that Oath learned from his father (again highlighting inconsistencies in how Underworld’s universe works). The conversation doesn’t really go anywhere or achieve anything and honestly, the whole segment is the best argument for WWE style scripted promos. Whilst I’ve criticized prior Underworld segments for weak acting or scripting, this is the first time I’ve felt that a segment should have been left entirely on the cutting-room floor.
Simon Oath def. Slickback Cash
If you couldn’t already tell, I found the build to this match throughout the episode to be tiresome and I approached this match in a foul mood.
However, it was actually pretty good. Oath and Cash have proven to be two of the stronger in-ring performers on the show and they worked well together. Simon Oath’s Aussie Bloke gimmick works better in the ring when he’s interacting with the crowd than it does in backstage vignettes. Both men worked at a fast pace and demonstrated varied movesets. Oath eventually takes the win with his Melbourne on Tap armlock submission and post-match invites Cash to join him in sharing a beer.
Backstage, Oath tries to help Slickback perfect his Iron Hand technique and it looks like the two characters are going to be teamed up in the future.
Mad Dog def. Gore
The episode concludes with the contest between Mad Dog and Gore. Once again, we get a more technical match than you would expect from two hardcore brawlers. It feels like Underworld is trying to slowly build to Mad Dog’s death-match side being unleashed on the audience.
Gore is a big jacked dude in what looks like a wooden Kane mask. He demonstrates more technical skill than I expected and it is brought up on commentary that he has an MMA background. A highlight of the match is Krackerjack using his trusty staple gun to punish Mad Dog behind the referee’s back whenever Mad Dog reaches for the ropes.
Gore eventually loses to the older veteran after being choked out in a Cobra Clutch. Backstage after the match, Krackerjack rethinks their strategy and suggests that they just find some jobbers for Gore to squash rather than looking for competitive match-ups. He finishes the promo with an emphatic cry of, “bring on the bullying.”
The show ends with two Lord Mark Williamson segments, one of him presenting a mystery man with what looks like an Ultron helmet and the other talking with a random hooded figure about how they will extract Mike E’s soul. In-fighting amongst The Claw and Williamson’s machinations has rapidly become the Underworld storyline I care least about.
This was the first episode of Underworld where I thought that the bad outweighed the good. It was the weakest episode of the series from an in-ring perspective (although the last two matches were solid) and the show was poorly paced. Apart from Krackerjack’s interviews, none of this episode’s angles really hit the mark.
The next episode, however, will feature the Gino Gambino vs Mitch Waterman match teased in episode 3. From live reports, it sounds like the match will be the first to really utilize Underworld’s gimmicks to their full potential.