Welcome to Part 2 of the Voices of Wrestling Australia and New Zealand Awards. Let’s re-introduce our judging panel:
- I’m once again Kevin Chiat; for those who missed Part 1 allow me to reintroduce myself, I review Underworld Wrestling for the site and I’m based in sunny Western Australia.
- My name is Tim, I’m from Oakland California; hold up a second, there’s a part 2? How long is this thing? (Kevin: Too long mate, way too long)
- And TheScorpioCorp who again is too mysterious to write his own introduction but is at least now willing to admit that he lives in South Australia.
In Part 2, we’ll be covering Tag Team of the Year, Breakout Wrestler of the Year, International Export of the Year and Show of the Year.
Tag Team of the Year
1. The Untouchables (Marcius Pitt & Damian Slater)
Pitt & Slater have been EPW Tag Team champions and had great showings in MCW as well (did a great job with putting over The Brat Pack, The Filip Bros & Prehistoric Death Cult). Slater’s cockiness and smoothness compliments Pitt’s insanity and power. Together they make a formable unit with a unique chemistry. Had a 4½ star match with the Street Gang Hooligans at EPW’s Hot Summers Night in a Three Stages of Hell match.
2. The Brat Pack (Nick Bury & Mitch Waterman)
They have the most Aussie gimmick and are massive dickhead heels. Awesome act. They teased a split at MCW 99, but it thankfully didn’t turn out that way (because they have more value as tag team than as singles competitors in my opinion) and then went on to regain the MCW Tag Team championships. Waterman and Bury are two young wrestlers with a bright future. Also, Avary is pretty good in her role as the third member of the team. An entertaining wrestler in her own right.
3. Street Gang Hooligans (Logan Grey & Alex Kingston)
I actually think that SGH are a better tag team than two teams that I have higher, but they have not had quite the year that The Brat Pack & The Untouchables have had. Mainly because their tag work has been more limited due to just being in the EPW tag division. Incredible high flying team. Alex Kingston is the more experienced and polished worker while Logan is the younger, more ambitious risk-taker.
1. The Untouchables
Individually both Marcius Pitt and Damian Slater are two of the biggest stars in Australia. Both are former EPW Heavyweight Champions(a title Pitt has held five times). Damian Slater is best known for his appearance in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic back in 2016. Since forming last year, the Untouchables(a subgroup of TMDK) have been the best tag team in Australia, and one of the most underrated worldwide. Their best work has been their feud with the Street Gang Hooligans, resulting in three exciting matches. They also defeated Moustache Mountain during the Progress Australian tour. Outside of Perth they have made a couple appearances for MCW and were part of the NJPW Australian tour.
2. The Filips (Tome and Stevie Filip)
Tome and Stevie are two of the breakout stars of 2018. While they have had a couple matches in MCW before Tome turned on his brother. The majority of the brothers’ tag work has come in World Series Wrestling, where they have been a heavily featured act.
3. The Brat Pack
The Brat Pack are very hit or miss with me. They are both very talented workers that can have very good matches when given the chance, but most of the time their matches are way overbooked, and their characters are so heavy handed that it hurts the quality of their matches. The Brat Pack are a staple of MCW, and get a genuine big face reaction despite being heels. Their best matches have come against The Untouchables, Mr. Juicy/Dowie James, and the Prehistoric Death Cult(Syd Parker and Caveman Ugg)
1. The Untouchables
Marcius Pitt and Damian Slater are two of the best wrestlers in the country. Together, they are the best tag-team in the country. No one really comes close. The Untouchables were EPW Tag Team Champions for the second half of the year and had multiple trips to compete at MCW. Pretty much every time they are asked to perform, they knock it out of the park. On the Progress tour, they had by far the best of Moustache Mountain’s tag matches. They are on the level of any team in the world, and in a fairer and juster reality, they would be in the conversation for best tag-team in the world.
2. Street Gang Hooligans
The Untouchables’ great rivals, The Street Gang Hooligans have the potential to be Australia’s number one babyface tag team. Logan Grey and Alex Kingston are two of EPW’s top stars and together they make a phenomenal team. Innovative and exciting, the team have a special type of charisma. Recently winning the EPW tag titles off The Untouchables in a Ladder match (which is my EPW MOTY) and working a match against the dream team of Jonah Rock and Walter, they seem primed to reach their superstar potential in 2019.
3. The Brat Pack
The biggest weakness for The Brat Pack this year was their teased split-up that ended up being a psyche out and feeling like a waste of time. Otherwise, the Australian Rules football jocks have been the centerpiece of the MCW Tag Team Division. Mitch Waterman and Nick Bury are two of the best young talents in Australia and with their manager Avary, they are growing into one of MCW’s showcase acts.
Breakout Wrestler of the Year
1. Stevie Filip
As soon as he entered MCW at the Ballroom Brawl rumble, MCW had struck gold with this guy. Had a short stint in that match, but he electrified the audience with his explosive offense. Displays an amazing athletic and aerial ability. Still got areas to patch up but mark my words, Stevie is going to be something special in the next 3-4 years. He showed that promise in some 4-star matches with Will Ospreay and Adam Brooks. Didn’t go with both Filips in the voting like Kevin because I’m much higher on Stevie and just think ‘Stevie’s better’.
2. JK Moody
‘The Antidote’ is already the best wrestler in New Zealand with only two years’ experience. SPW is probably the leading promotion in NZ and this man feels like the biggest star in that promotion. Everything from his entrance to the way he presents himself gives him a cool aura. Which is also a credit to SPW’s booking as they have given him the ball as a main eventer and let him run with it. Had an excellent Australian debut at MCW Fight to Survive and many fans already want to see back there.
3. Paris De Silva
His variations of the DDT (his shooting star DDT and standing on someone’s shoulder then giving them a DDT) have gained traction on social media. Will Ospreay has said that this fellow reminded him of Masato Yoshino. You know what, he nailed it on the head. Already doing incredible things and getting high praise. Also, him and Jude ‘The Dude’ London make a pretty exciting tag team called The Velocities.
1. Stevie Filip
While both Filip brothers had big years, I have to give the edge to Stevie. Tome spent the majority of 2019 working heel, which didn’t translate as well as Stevie’s face run did. Stevie debuted at the MCW Ballroom Brawl to huge fanfare and has been a major part of MCW since. Stevie’s breakout performance came against Will Ospreay at MCW 99, after Ospreay replaced Slex, who was unable to make the show. Tome and Stevie are a regular tag team outside of MCW, most notably in World Series Wrestling, where the Filip Bros.(Also known as The Natural Classics) have taken on teams like The Briscoes and the odd pairing of Marty Scurll and Brody King. In October, Stevie, Tome, and Indi Hartwell made their way to the US and wrestled at Bar Wrestling and Championship Wrestling From Hollywood. Upon returning to Australia, The Filip Bros had a tryout with the NJPW Fale Dojo, and will begin training in 2019.
2. JK Moody
Of the three SPW students (Moody, Khan, Power) JK Moody has pulled away from the pack in 2018 to become New Zealand’s best wrestler in my opinion. JK Moody is my most improved wrestler of the year, and a can’t miss future star. Moody has all the tools, great look, great gimmick, great in the ring, he is the complete package. Style wise he is clearly Influenced by Chris Hero(which is not a complaint at all), using several of his moves. Character-wise, he reminds me of Marty Scurll’s run when he was Progress world champion. His “Antidote” gimmick is basically that he is the cure for bad wrestling, it’s a character that’s been done before, but JK puts his own twist on it, and absolutely nails it(also he has the best theme song https://youtu.be/op3Jfq0qtNQ which fits him perfectly). Moody is the type of guy who probably hangs out in grimy, dimly lit techno clubs, sitting in the corner judging you for being a piece of shit, oblivious to the fact that he is a bigger piece of shit. Moody spent the first half of the year as SPW Champion, including defending(unsuccessfully) his title against Kane Khan in a TLC match in front of 1,200 fans. In September he made his MCW debut in a great contest over Ritchie Taylor. Moody is one of the top up and coming talents in wrestling, and if he keeps improving I wouldn’t be shocked if he shows up in BOLA within the next couple years.
Entering 2018, I didn’t see much in Avary. She wrestled but was mostly known as the manager if the Brat Pack. During the Progress Australian tour Avary wrestled Toni Storm at MCW Ballroom Brawl in the best match of Toni’s brief stay. Avary has had a really great year, and with the Brat Pack’s matches overbooked more often than not, she has arguably become the biggest star in her group. I wouldn’t be shocked if she gets booked in the SHIMMER or Stardom in 2019.
Avary is the most improved wrestler in all of Australia for 2018. Her match with Toni Storm at MCW Ballroom Brawl was a revelation; we all knew that Avary was killing it as The Brat Pack’s manager, but on that night she showed her potential to be Australia’s top female star. Avary has stepped up her game over multiple promotions in 2018. Her feud with Kellyanne was one of the most heated in the country and established her as one of MCW’s top names. Avary has far and away been the standout performer in Underworld Wrestling’s short history. In late November, at Melbourne’s disreputable Battle Championship Wrestling, she had a match with her trainer Carlo Cannon that got far more buzz than anything the male talent did on that night. The second time I saw her live, I paid absolutely no attention to the show’s main event because I was too busy curating my Instagram Story feed of Avary pictures. Avary is a future star and I very much hope gets the chance to hone her craft in Japan in the near future (I think she would be a perfect fit for Stardom).
2. The Filips
Tome and Stevie Filip broke out in 2018. The brothers started their career with Professional Championship Wrestling in Victoria and both made it to MCW in 2018. Tome is a natural heel and Stevie is a natural babyface, giving them an intriguing dynamic when they team together. Both have been pushed strongly in MCW since making their debuts, with Tome being taunted by chants of “Stevie’s Better”. The pair teamed together at MCW’s End Game to challenge for the tag team titles, but lost after Tome abandoned his brother. Tome vs Stevie looks to be one of MCW’s major feuds in 2019, however that plan might be complicated by both men being accepted into the Fale Dojo. The Filips could very well end up following in the footsteps of other Fale Dojo alumni and end up becoming full-on Young Lions themselves.
3. Lena Kross
So far, Lena Kross has exclusively worked NHPW; the secondary promotion in Western Australia. Over the year, she has gone from being a promising rookie to being one of the main reasons why I go to NHPW shows. Lena has special babyface charisma that can’t be taught (every intermission she has a flock of little kids following her around). She has gotten smoother and more assured in her ring work throughout the year. Her highlight of 2018 was a 4 star match with Madison Eagles in May. Lena closed her year out by challenging Saraya Knight for the Blackcraft Women’s Championship. Unfortunately she broke her collarbone in the match, but she will be returning to action early in 2019. Hopefully she can find her way outside the NHPW bubble, as I believe she has the potential to be one of the top women in Australia with more experience and exposure.
Kevin’s Honourable Mentions: Craven is one of Australia’s best hidden secrets, a 10 year pro who has completely upped his game in the last couple years since he switched to training at EPW. He is the current SHWA Champion and is regularly being flown to Mexico to work for The Crash. As he starts to work in higher profile promotions in Australia for 2019, look for him to become one of the scene’s hot talents.
Taylor King is poised to be one of EPW’s top stars in 2019. The Child Star of Australian Wrestling is starting to find the right balance between character and in-ring work. The final of the EPW Invitational Tournament was delayed until next year so King could heal up and still do the match, which speaks volumes about the plans for him next year. King also impressed in his appearance at WrestleRock over Super Show Down weekend and I would not be surprised to see him become a regular visitor to Melbourne.
Ricky South is another of the top up and comers in Australia. A unique gimmick mixed with Japanese influenced ringwork, South is one of the wrestlers who upskilled himself at one of the NJPW LA Dojo week-long camps. South piledriving Jimmy Havoc through a rainbow table was one of the highlights of the PROGRESS Australia tour.
International Export of the Year
1. Buddy Murphy
Went from being a developmental guy who was going nowhere to the big boss of 205 Live and one of the best in-ring performers in the WWE this year. His imposing figure and power offense has made him a standout in a roster with world-class cruiserweights. Won the 205 title in a satisfying moment at WWE Super-Show Down with 70,000 of his hometown fans cheering him on. Really lived up to his ‘best-kept secret’ moniker.
2. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
I’m kind of cheating by picking both Davis and Fletcher, but they have been so remarkable in the UK. Tremendous tag team work by these two. Big ‘DUNKZILLA’ Mark Davis and teenage prodigy Kyle Fletcher know how to bring the fire. They absolutely gel as a unit. Winning the PROGRESS Tag Team titles have been the highlight of their year. Also had great performances in other prominent UK indies (RevPro, FCP, Attack etc) to cement themselves as stars in the scene. Should also mention that both guys have been impressive as singles wrestlers.
3. Jay White
Gedo’s new golden boy. ‘Switchblade’ Jay White has gotten the mega push in NJPW after graduating as a young boy. While he still has got some work before becoming the ideal main event wrestler for NJPW, he has shown why NJPW has faith in him. He has excelled with his promo and character work. In-ring has been better than what people have given him credit for, even though he has some inconsistencies and been a bit underwhelming in some spots. Overall, I have enjoyed Switchblade’s run and it’s only going to get better (unless that BC Firing Squad faction gets more annoying than their G1 Climax run).
1. Toni Storm
Toni Storm is one of the best women’s wrestlers going today, and one of the brightest stars. In 2018 she has won the Mae Young Classic and made the finals of the WWE NXT UK Women’s Title Tournament, before losing to fellow Australian Rhea Ripley. Toni has also held titles all over the world, as she has had two reigns as wXw Women’s Champion(a title she currently holds at the time of this writing), and entered the year as both Progress Women’s Champion, and the World Of Stardom Championship.
2. Mark Davis
Not much to say here that isn’t obvious. Mark Davis is one of the best unsigned wrestlers going today. He and Kyle Fletcher are one of the best tag teams on the indies and currently(at time of this writing) hold tag team championships in Progress, ATTACK!, and Defiant.
3. Bad Luck Fale
While I’m not a fan of Bad Luck Fale as a wrestler, he is important in bridging the gap between New Japan and the Australian wrestling scene, where he has wrestled sporadically over the past couple years. The Fale Dojo in Auckland is helping bring the New Japan style overseas as well, as guys like Carter Deams, Tyler Payne, and New Zealand’s Michael Richards have all trained under Fale and Tony Kozina (yes, you read that correctly), and have improved significantly.
1. Toni Storm
I don’t think I need to say much here. Toni is one of the best women wrestlers in the world and the future of WWE’s Women’s Division. I’m just happy that I got to meet her this year and chat with her about the silly looking pink title belt she won at a sleazy Perth promotion in her teens.
2. Jonah Rock
The King of Monsters broke down the doors for Australian performers to make it to PWG. This exposure has elevated himself, Adam Brooks and Robbie Eagles to being the top three draws in Australian Wrestling. His success in the US and Europe has made him a worldwide indy name and he appears to be on the cusp of taking that next step up to WWE.
3. Elliot Sexton
Elliot Sexton is 6’5’, jacked and a great promo. Since moving to the US to live the Trophy Life in Orlando, his only major bookings have been with Progress Wrestling’s American tour. Sexton impressed Progress management so much at the MCWxProgress show (I believe Glenn Joseph dubbed Sexton his new favorite wrestler) that he was invited onto the tour. It can be hard to tell from Australia whether American indy promoters are just sleeping on the potential superstar in their midst or if Sexton is just too busy with his side-gig as official NXT dog-sitter to take many bookings. His webseries, Trophy Life is the funniest pro-wrestling sitcom on YouTube. If Being the Elite is Pro-Wrestling’s Friends then Trophy Life is its Curb Your Enthusiasm. Based on his skills, looks and creativity he should already have been signed up by a big company. If I was talent-scouting for All Elite, he is definitely someone I would be looking at picking up.
Show of the Year
This was the best top to bottom card from the Oceania scene during this year. The addition of PROGRESS wrestlers added another level compared to the regular MCW show. Elliot Sexton had a standout performance in the main event for the PROGRESS championship with Travis Banks and JXT. Tyler Bate vs Dowie James had arguably the MOTN. They are so good at the grappling. Also had the hard hitting contest between Pete Dunne & Mike Burr, an amusing triple threat match with Slex, Lochy Hendricks and Trent Seven etc. Everything else on the card was good to great.
2. MCW New Horizons
During the big WWE Super Show-Down weekend, MCW put on an excellent show as they put their best foot forward. Arguably the hottest crowd that they ever had. Robbie Eagles vs Gino Gambino was a brilliantly worked babyface vs heel match with the crowd going crazy for Robbie near the end. Slex vs Adam Brooks was superb stuff from two anti-heroes who know how to work the audience. Caveman Ugg vs Jonah Rock delivered in their hoss fight, Dowie James vs Lochy Hendricks had great storytelling and the rest was fun.
3. MCW 100
Their big 100th anniversary show and they moved to a bigger venue for this event. Tetsuya Naito got a superstar reception and had his working boots on. Slex vs Will Ospreay was unsurprisingly fantastic. Also had the surprising break-up of the Prehistoric Death Cult, Avary taking some big bumps in the women’s triple threat, a wacky scramble match etc. Just a super fun card.
1. MCW New Horizons
New Horizons is the best show of 2018. Just a stacked card from top to bottom, capped off with an incredible Eagles/Gambino main event for the MCW Heavyweight Championship. The undercard had a lot to love, with a hot opener with The Filip Bros vs The Untouchables, Avary continuing to climb the MCW ladder with a big win over Kellyanne, a hard-hitting match between Caveman Ugg and Jonah Rock, and Adam Brooks winning the Intercommonwelth Championship from Slex.
2. PWA Fridays are for the BABES
While nothing on this show was match of the year contender level, everything was good, and everything felt important. This was also the final PWA show of 2018, and it leaves me super excited about this promotion heading into 2019. First, I have talk about the name of the show. The BABES are the Blonde And Blue Eye Squad, of Matty Wahlberg, Carter Deams, and Harley Wonderland. They are essentially a fraternity/sorority. This show was built around them, and the set designed as the morning after a party, complete with hungover guy in a pool. The story is the BABES have been initiating Jax Jordan for months, never intending to let him into their group, just stringing him along so they could torture him. The show opens with a hot Jordan/Wahlberg match to begin their feud. The next couple matches also continued angles, as Tyler Payne (formerly Snapchad, before being unmasked at the previous show) had an incredible showing against Robbie Eagles, and looks to be one of Australia’s best prospects. The TMDK squad of Damian Slater and Mikey Broderick continued their invasion of PWA over the VeloCities of Jude “The Dude” London and Mat Diamond. The other two notable matches were the semifinals of their Colosseum tournament with Mick Moretti defeating Unsocial Jordan and Jack J. Bonza defeating Paris De Silva in the main event. This match also set up matches for their next two shows. Moretti and Bonza are tag team champions as members of the 4 Nations, but have been showing a lot of tension, with Moretti being a fan favorite, and Bonza being detested by fans. At the next show the 4 Nations defend their tag titles against Juan Direction, and the show after in February they wrestle each other in the tournament finals.
This is the second stop of the Progress Australian tour, and in my opinion, the best show of the three. The main event features Elliot Sexton giving one of the best individual performances of the year in Australasian wrestling. Sexton is currently living in Orlando Florida with his fiancé, who is in NXT. Sexton hasn’t done a lot this year, and even when he has, it’s been comedy based. On this night we saw what he is really capable of, looking like an unstoppable monster, and an absolute star. Elliot Sexton should be the biggest star in the US indys, but he isn’t taking bookings for whatever reason. 2018 has been a quiet year for him, but on this night he was brilliant, and it was a wonderful way to cap off a great show.
1. MCW New Horizons
Taking place over the same weekend as WWE Super Show-Down, this had the vibe and quality of a NXT Takeover before a WWE PPV. The show blew away WWE’s stadium show the next night in terms of quality; with top-notch matches such as The Untouchables vs The Filips, Slex vs Adam Brooks, Jonah Rock vs Caveman Ugg and Robbie Eagles vs Gino Gambino in a main event that had the hottest crowd I’ve ever seen at an Australia show. I think top to bottom it is the strongest card in MCW’s history.
The Progress Australia tour was one of the most significant moments of the Australian Wrestling year. MCW might have had the match of the tour in their main event and PWA had the biggest crowd, but I thought that for a complete card, EPW put on the best show. Davis Storm vs Pete Dunne was Dunne’s best match of the tour. Untouchables vs Moustache Mountain was Moustache Mountain’s best match of the tour. Michael Morleone vs Jimmy Havoc was Havoc’s best match of the tour. The only real weak spot on the card was an EPW Coastal Championship match between Scotty Ryan and Jay Taylor which went too long for a crowd that didn’t really care about it. MCW’s weakest matches were worse than it, and the PWA show suffered from trying to fit too many people on the card in meaningless tags and battle royales. If you’re looking to watch one show from the Progress Australia tour, it is the one I’d most highly recommend.
3. MCW 100
Melbourne City Wrestling’s biggest ever crowd of 1,200 people saw one of their strongest shows. Topped off by Jonah Rock vs Tetsuya Naito, MCW 100 was a big show that delivered. The night’s stand out match was Will Ospreay and Slex’s contest over the Intercommonwealth title.
What we’re looking forward to in 2019
What I am most excited about for next year is seeing more of the New South Wales scene as there seems to be a good amount of hungry, young wrestlers. PWA’s big improvements have set them up for a potentially bigger 2019. I know that PWA will be appearing at Powerbomb TV’s Family Reunion event at WrestleMania Weekend. If they bring the right wrestlers over, they could steal the show. They have some really eye-catching talent like Robbie Eagles, Caveman Ugg, Mick Moretti, Madison Eagles and the more ‘under the radar’ performers on that roster. Here in South Australia, I am excited to see how my local promotion Wrestle Rampage will go after successfully doing their first iPPV in early December. I think that they are heading in a good direction with AJ Istria (an excellent technical wrestler with a MMA hybrid style) winning the belt and also wrestlers like Tommy Knight, Rat Daddy and Nick Golfis stepping up.
When Will Ospreay arrived in 2017 a lot of people figured Australia would blow up the way the UK did a few years back. That didn’t quite happen, and the buzz died down a bit after a while. Entering 2019 Australasian wrestling is a lot healthier than it was in 2017, despite having less buzz internationally. The working standard is a lot higher than it once was, and keeps improving. There is so much young exciting talent coming up. This upcoming year I’m really excited to see guys like Paris De Silva, Tyler Payne, Kai Drake, the Filip Bros, Avary and more climb the ladder and become better wrestlers. Earlier this year Ospreay said Paris De Silva is one of the guys he most wants to wrestle, and I am insanely excited to see that match next year. I’m also really excited to see Mikey Nicholls mix it up with the younger guys. Jimmy Havoc returns in January and is booked for MCW, PWA, SPW, and WrestleRock. Lots of cool stuff happening internationally as well. Several wrestlers will be in New York WrestleMania weekend(so if you are a promoter reading this…) including Robbie Eagles, Madison Eagles, Shazza McKenzie, Unsocial Jordan. I’m really hoping more Aussies make their way to PWG in 2019. Mick Moretti and Caveman Ugg are two guys I most want in BOLA next year, I believe both would fit in amazingly well at PWG and get super over. 2018 has been a tremendous year for Australian and New Zealand wrestling, and I can’t wait to see what happens in 2019.
I’m looking forward to seeing a revitalized EPW in 2019 with their move to a new venue and hopefully new talent coming into the promotion as well. I am invested in seeing the continued growth of Australian women’s wrestling, especially MCW’s all women shows and NHPW’s Global Conflict double-header in May. My other big hope for the year is that we see more NJPW guest talent in the country’s top groups and a relationship similar to RevPro’s develops between these groups and New Japan.