After almost a year, Season One of Underworld Wrestling comes to an end with their finale; Glory to The Claw. Filmed in Melbourne on March 10th, this show sets up new champions and challengers for Season Two but doesn’t really blow off many of the storylines already running in the promotion. This show features Eliminator Survival Tournament and Pitbull defending his championship against number one contender (and recent AJPW gaijin) Slade Mercer.
On Underworld’s Pivotshare this show is labeled Episodes 7 and 8. I feel like this is a show that would benefit from being watched in blocks rather than consuming all two and a half hours at once. Six out of seven of the contests on this show are multi-person elimination matches; which gets a bit monotonous to watch all at once.
On the subject of Underworld’s distribution future; I’m honestly not sure what the situation with their Amazon Prime deal is. Episode 5 was uploaded onto YouTube rather than Amazon Prime. There have been no updates as to whether the remaining episodes will be available on Amazon either. It was very noticeable that the commentary team wasn’t constantly mentioning Amazon Prime as they have on past shows. It will be a pity if Underworld’s Amazon Prime deal is dead; if for no other reason than it was a good opportunity for Australian talent to be seen on a global platform that isn’t as crowded as YouTube.
We open with play-by-play announcer Lord Andy Coyne (complete with snazzy red jacket) knocking on the locker room door of Underworld’s special international guest talent. Andy’s commentary partner, Mohammad Ali Vaez opens the door with his nose covered in cocaine residue. Vaez tries to get Andy to disappear as we hear some distinctly Scottish shouting in the background.
Next up we have the opening video package, which goes over the stakes for this show. All championship points have been reset to zero (which kind of makes most of the matches the last couple shows feel a bit meaningless). Most of this show consists of an Eliminator Survival tournament to determine the first challenger for Season Two as well as one elimination match to determine the next challenger for Vixsin’s Women’s Championship. We get a series of short promos from the competitors, including Episode 3 performer Izzy Shaw revealing that she’s a member of The Claw now. The package ends with Slade Mercer promising that he will defeat Pitbull for the Men’s Championship and bring about “the end of all things”.
Zhan ‘GWOC’ Wen def. Sagat Pyro, Simon Oath & Gore
The first match in the Eliminator Survival tournament sees the experienced Sagat Pyro (aka Muay Thai Dowie James) up against three newer talents to the scene. Zhan Wen just towers over everyone else, even the monstrous Gore. Simon Oath begins the match by going straight for Sagat Pyro, having found out that he crippled his father last episode (though everyone else in the promotion seemed to know this fact before Simon did.) Oath gets some bursts of good looking offense in, he has generally been one of the stronger in-ring talents introduced to the Australian scene by Underworld. After a Tower of Doom spot, he quickly gets eliminated via KO by a Sagat Pyro kick.
Next up, Gore and GWOC go at it. Gore’s brother Krackerjack interjects himself into the match and gets taken out by Zhan Wen. In one of the cooler spots of the night, Pyro breaks up a bridging German with a running stomp onto Gore. He then proceeds to tap Gore out with a variant on the Indian Deathlock.
We come down to Sagat Pyro and Zhan Wen. I thought that this match was the strongest Zhan Wen has looked so far in Underworld, and he is someone I’d be keen to see other Australian promotions give a shot too. Zhan eventually wins and moves onto the final with a serious of clubbing blows to the head for the stoppage.
Post-match, we have a brief promo with Zhan Wen followed by a glorious promo from Krackerjack and Gore. Krackerjack threatens to defecate all over the Underworld management office. When he has gotten the chance to speak, Krackerjack has far and away been the most entertaining talker on Underworld.
We next see a short backstage vignette where Slickback Cash is told by a referee that he hasn’t been medically cleared to compete. Cash threatens to slap the referee with his Iron Hand; and as the referee flinches and leaves Cash we hear a cheesy Kung Fu sound effect.
Mitch Waterman def. Andy Roy & Paddy O’Neill
The second tournament match sees both of manager Benny English’s charges: Andy Roy and Mitch Waterman take on the Irish bare-knuckle fighter Paddy O’Neill. This was to some extent set up the last episode, where Roy lost to O’Neill.
This is one of the quicker matches on the card, and despite being managed by the same person Roy and Waterman don’t really work together at all. The in-ring highlight of the match is Roy jumping off the middle turnbuckle onto O’Neill for a Destroyer. Andy Roy eventually gets a rear-naked choke on the Irishman, but that is pretty much immediately followed by Waterman hitting a Superkick for the win.
Post-match we have vignettes of Andy Roy being angry at English and saying that he’ll get revenge for his mismanagement. Paddy O’Neill is very angry at Benny and says he wants a one on one fight with the manager at the next show. It is a bit of a confusing promo considering that English really played no role in O’Neill’s elimination. Benny and Mitch celebrate his victory. The team of Benny English and Mitch Waterman come off as being the only characters who really have affection for each other in the promotion.
Next up, Lord Andy Coyne welcomes Underworld’s special international guest star to the ring. The music hits and out walks former ICW World Champion DCT. He is accompanied by minimal reaction, which clearly says something about how much attention people in Melbourne are paying to current day ICW. Leading up to this taping, Underworld was advertising that they were bringing in a special mystery international who was a former World Champion and television star. For whatever reason, PAC seemed to be the main rumor going around Australia; so you can understand why the live crowd treated DCT’s arrival with a shrug.
Despite this minimal reaction, DCT gets over by the end of his long promo segment. He has been in Australia since the end of last year and has recently become a regular at Melbourne City Wrestling. Whilst DCT isn’t a super-worker in-ring, he has proven to be a very good promo and the Australian scene is honestly in greater need of strong promos than workrate guys.
DCT turns the crowd against him by being obnoxious and Scottish. The highlight of the promo is DCT responding to a taunt from the audience about haggis with, “Haggis tastes better than your pussy.”
DCT def. JXT, Mad Dog & Ritchie Taylor
I thought that overall this was the strongest match of the show. The match begins with Mad Dog and DCT working together to dive onto their opponents on the outside. Ritchie Taylor continues his hot streak of being one of the most impressive wrestlers in the country in 2019. There are two fun multi-man spots in this match’s early stages; the first being a combined dropkick/German Suplex/sunset flip and the second being a chain of sleeper holds with all four men.
Mad Dog is eventually eliminated by a Diving Headbutt from JXT. We then get some cool looking back and forth from JXT and Taylor. They are two people I’d be interested in seeing in a program together when JXT returns from America. They have contrasting styles in a way that I think meshes well together. Eventually, JXT is put into a Figure Four by DCT. When the Jaystick reverses it, Taylor swoops in and catches JXT in a Camel Clutch for the submission.
DCT and Taylor fight each other for a while until DCT is able to crotch Ritchie when he goes up to the top rope and opens the brawler up for a knee strike that gets the Scot a three-count.
After the match, we have a quick promo where JXT says that he didn’t submit and was screwed by the official and Underworld. I actually thought that they dropped the crybaby JXT angle on his last appearance, but I suppose it’s still going. Meanwhile, DCT gives an appropriately loud and cocaine-fueled promo.
As we come back to ringside, out emerges Lord Mark Williamson flanked by some hooded flunkies carrying a body bag. The Claw leader chews the scenery as he promises to perform a live resurrection. He then makes a snippy comment about how Australian wrestling fans will pay big money to watch Americans in staring contests, I guess because he can’t help himself. (This was a reference to touring Australian promotion World Series Wrestling who ran the same week as this taping. On their last tour, Cody Rhodes and Joey Ryan did angles with staring contests and thumb wars to make up for the fact that they were too injured to perform. It was silly, but got over with the live crowds and was a nice gesture on Cody and Ryan’s part.)
The body bag is unzipped to reveal the corpse of Mike E from Episode 4. Williamson takes a glowing syringe and uses it to resurrect a fallen comrade called Luciano inside the reality show winner’s body. Instead, it turns out that the soul got switched up and Williamson has resurrected another wrestler, Zebel. Supposedly Zebel died in the 90s and was over seven foot tall. He is quite shocked at being brought back to life in the tiny Mike E’s body (though his does also check out his new downstairs equipment and is pleasantly surprised). Williamson’s funniest moment is off the microphone as he tells Zebel to do flips and Undertaker spots in his upcoming match.
Australian Wolf def. Sam Cannon & Zebel
Australian Wolf and Sam Cannon are both from Queensland. Whilst he is in, Zebel is the star of this match. Zebel/Mike E demonstrates a flair for comedy and character work past what you’d expect from someone straight out of wrestling school.
Unfortunately, Zebel is quickly eliminated with a jackknife pin from Cannon (following on from a botched inside cradle that was clearly meant to be the finish). Cannon and Australian Wolf keep going at it for about another 10 minutes or so. Their segment goes too long considering that they weren’t particularly strongly established earlier in the series. The work is of a decent standard, but it doesn’t sound like the crowd particularly cares. Wolf eventually gets a submission victory to move onto the tournament final.
Izzy Shaw vs Tarlee vs Avary
Up next is the elimination match to determine the number one contender to Vixsin’s Women’s Championship. Izzy Shaw makes her entrance accompanied by Mark Williamson since she is now a member of The Claw. As @Shadow_Novax pointed out in their Tweetreview, it would have been more effective had Izzy’s allegiance to The Claw been a reveal at the end of this match rather than just states in the opening package.
Next out is Sydney wrestler Tarlee. She is one of the rising female workers in the country, working for minor promotions in New South Wales as well as Melbourne City Wrestling. She uses Immigrant Song for her entrance theme, and every time I see her enter to it I want to see her fully commit to being Bruiser Tarlee and start swinging a chain around. Next up is Avary who comes out to the biggest reaction on the show. Over the course of Underworld’s entire season, Avary has been the most consistent and impressive performer.
Izzy Shaw cuts a promo before the start of the match saying that she’s The Claw’s new chosen one and that she will challenge Vixsin later on in the night after winning this match. Avary responds by challenging Vixsin directly. The Champ responds and the match is now a four-way.
Izzy Shaw def. Vixsin ©, Avary & Tarlee
For the most part, Women’s Championship matches have been the highlight of Underworld’s product. The one on one contest between Vixsin and Avary in Episode 6 was the best title match the promotion has put on. Unfortunately, this match falls far below the standard set by the other championship contests.
Vixsin starts off dominating the contest and then hits Izzy Shaw with a weak looking Chokeslam onto Tarlee. Tarlee then hit Vixsin with the title belt and everyone hits finishers on Vixsin and piles on her for the elimination.
Then Tarlee and Avary go at it for a bit whilst Izzy Shaw waits on the outside. Avary eventually gets the elimination with her Daddy Issues DDT. Izzy Shaw then follows up with an attack from behind to set up a Muta Lock. Avary taps out and Izzy Shaw is the new champion.
This is a weak finish to the season for the women considering that they have generally been the highlights on all their other appearances. It feels like Izzy Shaw was just given the title so they could do the closing angle of the show with The Claw holding both title belts.
Eliminator Survival Tournament Final
Mitch Waterman def. DCT, Zhan ‘GWOC’ Wen & Australian Wolf
This tournament final ended up feeling rushed. Australian Wolf was eliminated by Waterman very quickly. Soon afterward Waterman and DCT hit Stereo Superkicks to eliminate the big GWOC.
Now it is down to Mitch Waterman and DCT. They go back and forth for a while, with DCT eventually catching Waterman in a Texas Cloverleaf. Mitch gets to the ropes, but DCT knocks Benny English off the apron with enrages Mitch. DCT was the most impressive performer throughout the entire show, and I think that this show has been the best showcase for him in Australia so far. Waterman hits a Superkick then a serious of punches to the downed DCT for the stoppage victory. Mitch Waterman getting the win here goes over well, as he has been one of the more popular members of the Underworld roster to the live crowd. For the tournament final, this felt like somewhat of an anti-climax though.
Slade Mercer def. Pitbull (c)
Now we’re up to the final match of the show and Underworld Season One. Good old Uncle Pitbull defending his championship against The Claw’s mercenary Slade Mercer.
Mercer enters first, flanked by Lord Mark Williamson. Slade has never come off as less cool than when Williamson is dancing to his music and doing Slade’s hand signal. Pitbull then comes out and the brawl starts.
These two benefit from the fact that everyone else held off using weapons for the rest of the show. Generally, this is a solid weapons brawl and Pitbull’s strongest match of the series.
Pitbull ends up setting up one of the ring boards in the corner, spearing Mercer threw it. Pitbull lands roughly and comes up bleeding from the spot. A table is brought into the contest, but it doesn’t really play along.
Eventually, Slade gets Pitbull into his Kaiju Lock and Pitbull passes out to give the win and championship to Slade Mercer.
Wait, why was Williamson motioning to the referee? And now why is Pitbull running wild and trying to spear Williamson? Oh fuck off, you’re doing a fucking Montreal finish. Just why? What fucking purpose does this serve?
As you can tell from my above reaction, this was a pretty solid plunder match that was marred by a dumb finish.
Once Pitbull is taken to the back, Williamson with both of his new champions out promises to use a magical eye and the titles to bring about ‘The End of All Things’. Before he can though, one of the minions takes off his hood to reveal NJPW Commentary team member Gino Gambino (it is a pity that you can hear someone in the crowd shout out “Gino” right before the hood comes down). Gambino proceeds to beat the shit out of The Claw members and gives Williamson a Piledriver.
Gambino walks off with the championship and the camera follows him outside. I thought that there might be a reveal of The Dark Lord in this ending segment, but instead, the only reveal is Gino’s very swanky Range Rover which he drives off in.
Back in the ring, an irate Mercer walks out on Williamson and Izzy Shaw. Then the pair of Saturday Morning Cartoon villains go to the back themselves.
The closing segments of the series are an angry Pitbull saying that he wants to kill Williamson and then an angry Mercer saying that he wants to kill Gino then Williamson. The series ends with a despondent Williamson on the floor, but he perks up when Izzy Shaw reminds him that they still have a championship and thus can still bring about the Apocalypse and the show closes on the pair laughing.
Apart from Gino Gambino getting his revenge on Williamson, there wasn’t much in this segment that I enjoyed. The booking felt like it did a disservice to the solid plunder match that Mercer and Pitbull had put on beforehand. The very end feels like Underworld doubling down on a lot of the series’ biggest flaws; an overreliance on the Mark Williamson character, letting the fighting play second-fiddle to a poorly conceived magic storyline and a lack of narrative closure.
So this is the end of Underworld Season One. Glory to The Claw itself was an okay show but a bit monotonous. As I said at the start of this review; I think it will play better if you watch it in segments rather than watching the whole event at once.
Overall I’d give Underworld Wrestling Season One a B- grade. There have been highlights throughout the season; especially the performances of Avary, Erika Reid, Vixsin and Slade Mercer. Some talented lesser-known talents such as Ritchie Taylor, Zhan Wen and Simon Oath have also gotten valuable exposure. The production values are generally of a good standard, and the commentary from Lord Andy Coyne and Mohammad Ali Vaez is really strong work.
There have also been what I’ve seen as big weaknesses; a lack of real stand-out matches, the points system being a bit of a mess and too much of a focus on hoodoo bullshit. Underworld Wrestling is returning for a second season in June; though I imagine that future shows will be released straight to Pivotshare in full like this one was rather than being a television product like the promotion started out as.
Underworld Wrestling has been an ambitious attempt at doing something different with Australian Wrestling. I don’t think that the budget or execution has ever fully matched the ambition though. I still think that the series is worth giving a shot to, especially if you’re into weird shit (at the very least I recommend watching Avary’s matches and Slade Mercer vs Ritchie Taylor). Seeing as how ‘The End of All Things’ failed to materialize, we’ll have to see how Underworld revamps their product in their second season.