I was generally unimpressed by the last episode of Underworld Wrestling. I didn’t think any of the matches stood out and the episode’s angles were mostly ineffective. Happily, I can say that Episode 5 is a major improvement. It contains what I consider to be the best match in Underworld Wrestling’s short history and the first match to really stretch Underworld’s gimmicks (possibly to the breaking point.)
The episode opens up with JXT doing his indy wrestler duty and manning the merchandise desk. He is assaulted by The Big Rig (Melbourne City Wrestling’s Fun Time Phil/FOX who seems to be going by this name in Underworld). The Big Rig is moved on by security whilst he swears copiously. Next, we see Underworld’s community manager, Justine talking to the camera about how she can’t let JXT go out for his match anymore.
JXT vs The Big Rig
The in-ring portion of the show opens with JXT’s music playing but no JXT appearing. The music is cut off by The Big Rig’s and he comes out to cut a promo about how he wants a fight. JXT’s music hits again and he comes out this time, ignoring Justine telling him not to compete.
Straight away JXT (wearing perhaps the most amount of tassles any wrestler has ever worn) takes down Rig and starts with punches. After this, however, the match loses much of the sense that it is a ‘fight’ and turns into a pretty normal wrestling match. It is a perfectly fine contest, that is competently performed but it quickly loses any sense that it is anything other than a normal pro-wrestling match. The storyline that JXT was too badly injured in the opening angle to compete quickly gets lost as it becomes a pretty standard babyface/heel match.
The match ends about 8 minutes in, with JXT reversing a Tombstone attempt into a roll-up. JXT gets the win and his first point on the Underworld tally board. Post-Match JXT celebrates his achievement and he seems to be back to being a pure babyface after his appearance on Episode 3 seemed to suggest he was turning heel.
In the back, JXT mocks the silly way that Mark Williamson says “violence”, which I quite enjoyed. The Big Rig, however,is very disappointed in himself for losing to The Jaystick.
Next up, we have a vignette of Underworld Women’s Champion Vixsin looking for her upcoming challenger Avary at the merch desk. Again she can’t find her, and this seems to be the only build we’re getting for their championship contest next episode.
We are then shown a vignette of Ritchie Taylor sparring. Taylor was chosen by both TheScorpioCorp and Tim Tersei as one of their picks for Underrated Wrestler of 2018 in our End of Year Australia/New Zealand Awards. He is a rough-brawler character who looks to be a bigger player in the Melbourne scene in 2019. He was chosen to match up with Jimmy Havoc on MCW’s first show of the year; demonstrating how much his stock has recently risen.
Slade Mercer vs Ritchie Taylor
This match felt like the platonic ideal of what Underworld Wrestling should be. Two fighters beating the living daylights out of each other in short intense matches. Apart from the Women’s title match on the first episode of Underworld, this is the only match so far from the promotion that I’d recommend unreservedly.
This is pretty much the opposite of the match preceding it. This feels different to a regular wrestling match, with both men using sick looking elbow and knee strikes. Slade Mercer has a big size advantage over Ritchie Taylor, but Taylor is able to stay in the match with his grit and toughness. Once again Mercer fishhooks his opponent’s cheeks, this time wiping his hands on the referee’s shirt once he’s told off.
One of the things Mercer and Taylor accomplishes which other wrestlers have struggled with is that they really raise the intensity level as the Floodgate clock enters its last two minutes. Mercer eventually picks up the win with his Kaiju Lock, putting The Mercenary on 6 points.
This really was the best match Underworld has produced so far. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting an Underworld sub just to see this match if you’re not interested in the rest of the show; but if you have an Amazon Prime subscription then it is very much worth checking this match out.
In the back, Slade Mercer brags about his win and hints that his handler has been feeding him information about his opponents and future plans. Mercer comes off as the most over performer to the live crowd and given that Underworld is the highest-profile promotion he works for, it makes sense for the promotion to build around him as one of their featured stars.
Underworld’s best match yet is followed up by their best backstage segment. Benny English is shown playing sad piano music whilst talking with his client Mitch Waterman. Both men play their roles well, with English particularly shining as he talks about his fear that Gino Gambino is going to tear off Waterman’s genitals. Waterman is nonplussed, but does question his manager as to why they got more money when the Floodgate opened in his previous matches than when he won. English lets slip that he’d done a deal with The Claw where they would get paid more when the Floodgate opened so that Claw members could run in on the matches. Waterman misunderstands this to thinking that he’ll get more money if he goes the full 10 minutes against Gino.
Mitch Waterman vs Gino Gambino
So this is where Underworld’s gimmicks come into play.
The match begins with both men being flanked by their managers. Lord Mark Williamson does a Paul Heyman, taking the microphone himself to deliver an introduction for his client. He ends his spiel by announcing “Gino (I’m not going to fuck you) Gambino.”
For most of the match, Gambino monsters Waterman by using his size advantage to throw Waterman around. He gets brief flurries of offense, but Waterman seems to just be trying to survive rather than win the match.
With 20 seconds left on the clock, Gambino KOs Waterman who falls through the ropes. Benny English picks up his client and holds him up, playing Weekend at Bernie’s to avoid the referee calling the match off. Meanwhile, the Floodgate opens and Mad Dog comes out.
Mitch Waterman vs Gino Gambino vs Mad Dog
As Gambino and Mad Dog begin brawling in the ring, English sits Mitch Waterman down on a chair to avoid the referee calling the knockout. Gambino has enough and throws Waterman back into the ring. The super heavyweight tries to pin both of his opponents at the same time but they kick out. Gambino seems to decide that he has had enough and just walks out of the match; clearly having come to the realisation at how silly random run-ins entering a match are.
We then have about 8 minutes of Waterman and Mad Dog fighting amongst each other. The work is fine, but it is the weakest portion of the match as it becomes clear a few minutes in that they are going to the buzzer again.
Neither man really has a convincing nearfall until Mad Dog gets Waterman into the Rings of Saturn with a minute to go. Waterman survives the final minute and the Floodgate opens again to reveal Sagat Pyro.
Mitch Waterman vs Gino Gambino vs Mad Dog vs Sagat Pyro
Sagat Pyro (or as I like to call him Muay Thai Dowie James) comes into the match on fire, taking down both opponents with strikes. Generally, I thought that Pyro came off looking much more impressive in this outing than he did in his debut match.
In terms of in-ring work, this section of the match is the strongest. Pyro and Waterman have good chemistry together. As Sagat Pyro, Dowie James works a different style with more of a focus on knee and elbow strikes. The highlight of this section is Pyro coming off the ropes to do a sunset flip to Mad Dog, forcing Mad Dog who is holding onto Waterman to throw the poor lad in a German Suplex.
The time limit hits again, and Gino Gambino has found his way back to the ring. Meanwhile ,Simon Oath comes out onto the stage sculling a beer. He’s not here to get involved himself, but as moral support for his friend Slickback Cash.
Mitch Waterman vs Gino Gambino vs Mad Dog vs Sagat Pyro vs Slickback Cash
It has really become clear that Underworld have really given up on the idea that wrestlers fight to get into a match when the Floodgate opens. Since Episode 1, every time they have it has just been one wrestler entering the match.
Straight away, Slickback Cash tries to use his ‘Iron Hand’ with a series of relatively ineffectual chops. Gambino is entering the ring as Waterman shrugs off a chop from Cash then responds with a superkick.
Which KOs Slickback Cash immediately. Mitch Waterman is declared the winner after 30 something minutes. That’s it.
It is a frustrating end to the match which was meant to showcase Underworld’s main gimmick. The ending plays as comedy and kind of makes the last 20 minutes of action feel like a bit of a waste of time. The ending didn’t feel hot or like it was the culmination of the match and gave the impression that Slickback Cash was used to make sure no one important lost a fall.
Mitch Waterman and Benny English escape to the back, serenaded by the fans singing “Mitchy” to them. Meanwhile, an irate Gino Gambino looks to take out his frustrations on Lord Mark Williamson. Sagat Pyro steps in-front of The Claw leader to protect him. Then the lights go out.
When the lights come back on, the main in the robot mask from last episode is in the ring. He takes out Gambino with a big boot, then Williamson rants about how he brought these two in to take Gambino out. The masked man removes his helmet to reveal Slade Mercer. The newly formed trio walk out together. I will say, considering that Williamson has turned on everyone he’s been allied with over the course of just 6 episodes neither Mercer nor Pyro come off as particularly intelligent in hitching their wagon to Lord Mark.
Afterwards, Gino Gambino promises to return next show with some ‘friends’ to fuck Williamson up. Seeing as how Gambino is an auxiliary member of Bullet Club, the implication is that he will be bringing in Bullet Club back-up. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that either Bad Luck Fale or Robbie Eagles could debut with Underworld at the next tapings (though neither has been announced yet). If Gino’s friends are someone else; well I wouldn’t call it a case of false advertising but it is certainly somewhat misleading.
Post-match, Benny English and Mitch Waterman are backstage talking about their celebration plans. Mitch double checks with his manager that the promised models in their hotel suite are women to a non-answer. The last vignette shown is footage of a Claw minion removing the soul of reality show jobber Mike E.
The next time trailer promises us that Vixsin will finally find out where Avary is and a title fight between Pitbull and Carlo Cannon.
This episode is a huge improvement on the episode that preceded it. Slade Mercer vs Ritchie Taylor was very much a highlight of the whole season, and is worth going out of your way to see even if you’re not interested in following Underworld regularly. The main event of this episode kind of displays both the best and worst of Underworld Wrestling simultaneously. The next episode will be the last from the November tapings and after that, we’ll be in the finale of the season which is being taped in March.