Melbourne Championship Wrestling
Ballroom Brawl 2019
July 20, 2019
The Thornbury Theatre
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Ballroom Brawl is traditionally Melbourne City Wrestling’s biggest show of the year. Following on from MCW’s Clash of The Titans in March, it feels like MCW’s main shows have suffered a bit of a lull for the past few months. The promotion has had to deal with injuries, talent moving overseas and some of the new fly-in talent not getting over. However, Ballroom Brawl feels like a return to form and a great way for the promotion to kick off its second half of 2019.
This year’s edition was also the first MCW show I have had the privilege of attending live. As with my EPW Goldrush review, this review tries to reflect on both the live experience as well as the VOD experience. As an aside on this, feel like I should point out how great a venue The Thornbury Theatre is and how big-time MCW’s production feels live in a way that I don’t fully appreciate on tape.
Two-thirds of our usual commentary team are absent today (Lord Andy Coyne and Lindsay Howarth); so commentary is provided by Krackerjack, Travis Euesden and Jimmy Townsend of PWA’s The Prefects.
The show itself opens with an introduction from the guest hosts for the show, semi-famous Australian comedy team Aunty Donna (they’re famous enough to tour nationally, not famous enough to be on TV). I was pretty down on this announcement; especially since MCW just got done with a big celebrity angle that saw Melbourne radio personality Seb Costello get in the ring. It felt kind of exhausting to go into another celebrity angle straight away (especially with Gino Gambino and his manager Sebastian Walker involved again).
That being said, their appearance at the start was generally pretty innocuous and they said the right things that I felt a little bad about booing them. (Their Titantron said ‘just happy to be here’ which was my favorite of their jokes on the night). Ultimately it wasn’t an angle for me, but it likely helped with the capacity sell-out MCW drew on the night.
MCW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Natural Classics (Tome Filip/Stevie Filip) (c) Def. The Velocities (Jude London/Paris De Silva)
The show opens with a tag-team title defense between the new champions The Natural Classics and Sydney’s break-out team The Velocities. Something that was clear to me live that didn’t necessarily come across on tape was the extra size that The Filip Brothers have put on after their time at the Fale Dojo. The champions were able to push around their challengers in a way that I’m not used to seeing from them.
For the most part, Australian crowds don’t pay much attention to what is going on outside their home territory. MCW’s crowd, in particular, can be difficult for new interstate talent to win over. I thought that The Velocities did well in their MCW debut in a difficult position (opening the show in a babyface vs babyface match). My major point of critique was that there was never really a point where I got caught into thinking that The Velocities had a real chance of winning the match.
I particularly liked Tome Filip’s work at the start of the match, where he just kept head locking Paris De Silva to stop his opponents flips. There is a spot near the end where Stevie hits a running shoulder block from the stage whilst Tome is spinning Jude London in a TKO and then transitions immediately into a moonsault to the outside which was breathtaking.
The Natural Classics take the win with their Mother of All Bombs finish (a combo powerbomb-backstabber) to retain the belts. This was a fun and athletic opener that was just missing the intensity needed to get to the next level. I’d be interested in seeing what these two teams could do against each other in a rematch though. The Filip Brothers are set to be going off to the NJPW Tokyo Dojo in September and I’m very keen to see how they go as Young Lions.
Up next is a short skit where one of the Aunty Donna members is going through Dowie James’ bag. The crux of the joke is that instead of having his wrestling gear in the bag, Dowie has the ingredients for guacamole. I thought that Dowie’s performance in the skit was more amusing than the comedians, to be honest.
Jake Andrewartha def. ‘Party Boy’ Jax Jordan
The former Olympian Jake Andrewartha recently broke away from a tag-team and is starting a big singles push. He has been teamed up with Siren Monroe, a valet who returned to MCW last show after a three-year absence.
His opponent Jax Jordan is from the Sydney wrestling scene, but it has almost become a running gag that he makes a yearly appearance at MCW’s Ballroom Brawl show.
As it should be, this is pretty much a squash. Jordan gets a little bit of offense in and is briefly able to knock the Judoka down to a knee. Unfortunately for him, Andrewartha is able to throw the Party Boy around with ease and quickly chokes him out. I’ve seen some resistance to Andrewartha’s new push on MCW fan forums, but I am mostly on-board with it. I think that these squashes will establish him as a force in MCW, and it will then mean something when someone is able to draw him into a competitive match.
Next, Sydney’s LUX join Kassius Ohno in the illustrious ranks of pro-wrestlers to appear on Australian reality TV staple/security state propaganda Border Security. It might just be my own sense of humor but I thought this blew away any of the Aunty Donna segments in terms of being funny. Xena and Kingsley have been developing into two of the best characters in Australian Wrestling in 2019 and their vignette work has been excellent.
Kellyanne/Jessica Troy def. Indi Hartwell/Steph De Lander and LUX (Xena/Kingsley)
To an extent, this does feel like a very WWE move to stick all of the women on the card into one match. The storyline going into the match is that Indi Hartwell and Steph De Lander have teamed up and Kellyanne and Jessica Troy feel they need to be aligned to protect each other. LUX have turned up pretty much just because they are psychopaths.
This match is an entertaining spotfest. For the most part, no two people are in the ring against each other for a significant period of time, it’s all people coming in and out for sequences. I thought that the character work from LUX was the most interesting part of the match. There’s a segment in the middle where Steph De Lander gets her big shine segment, throwing around everyone. So far, I’ve most enjoyed SDL’s work when she’s matched up with someone like Kingsley who she can just ragdoll.
After a big superplex spot to the outside that takes everyone out; the team of Kellyanne and Jessica Troy look to have the match won until Kingsley breaks up the pinfall by attacking them with a mannequin head. LUX then ‘literally’ spill the tea on their opponents but get caught in dual submissions for the finish.
Post-match, Indi Hartwell cuts a heartfelt goodbye promo where she says that she is going off overseas now that she feels that she has accomplished everything she could in Australia. As the crowd, who normally heartily boo Indi show their appreciation, her best friend Steph De Lander lays out Indi with a TKO. I don’t know where this is going, Hartwell very easily could be leaving Australia in the near future (she’s someone I expect to eventually make their way to NXT) or this could be the start of a babyface turn. It felt to me like Indi and SDL were just getting started as an act together and that it is too early to break them up, but if Indi is leaving Australia then it makes sense to use her to establish SDL as the new top heel in the MCW women’s division.
There’s another Aunty Donna skit, this time with The Brat Pack which I’m not going to try to explain because the central joke won’t mean anything if you don’t have any contextual information about Australian Rules Football.
Matty Wahlberg def. Dowie James and TK Cooper
This is an interesting match-up. Matty Wahlberg has pretty much been the break-out star of Australian Wrestling in 2019 and is currently a contestant on the latest Australian series of Survivor. Dowie James is basically MCW’s Ace and is coming back to action from a knee injury. This is TK Cooper’s first time back in MCW since he lost the MCW Championship in 2017.
Before the match starts, Matty Wahlberg taunts a couple of fans chanting for Cooper with, “Oh, I watch Progress, I’m cool”. (Though let’s be fair, Progress hasn’t been cool since they turned in their punk-rock card and went corporate).
This was really good, pretty much non-stop action. Both Dowie and TK Cooper want to re-establish themselves as top dogs in MCW by kicking the crap out of each-other, whilst Wahlberg continually plays spoiler.
The scariest moment of the match was Dowie doing a twisting corkscrew moonsault to the outside, and having his leg hit the guardrail after just coming off an injury. Cooper eventually pulls the referee out of the ring and knocks him out to stop Dowie getting the win (which I thought was more of a heel move, but according to the announcers beating up referees is part of Cooper’s shtick). Wahlberg is then able to layout Cooper with a jumping Curb Stomp for the win.
It feels like Wahlberg is going to get a big push in MCW for the rest of the year. At PWA in Sydney, he got himself so over that the crowd turned him babyface, so I enjoy seeing him work in MCW where he just gets to be a complete prick and gets booed for it.
MCW Intercommonwealth Championship
Danny Psycho def. Lochy Hendricks
This is the final of the tournament MCW had run over the past couple of months to crown a new Intercommonwealth Champion after Slex relienquished the title. It is also the climax to Lochy Hendricks’ Uncle Paul storyline, in which he was claiming to be signed to WWE and he promised that he would win the title then throw it into a trashcan in Stamford, Conneticut.
Danny Psycho is the first-ever MCW Champion, who was returning to the promotion after a seven-year absence. I thought that his first match back against Scotland’s DCT in May wasn’t the right match-up stylistically to showcase him. His semi-final match against Hendricks’ former tag partner Shaun Young played better to his strengths. This tournament final was by far the best Psycho has looked since returning to MCW and one of Lochy Hendricks’ best performances as well.
Hendricks’ enters with a homage to Triple H’s WrestleMania 30 entrance and is showered in toilet paper by the crowd. Danny Psycho enters to My Chemical Romance which gives me happy 2006 flashbacks.
I thought that this was an excellent WWE-style main event match. To an extent, it loses something on tape, which doesn’t quite capture how hot the crowd was live. Hendricks is a truly despicable character, and I respect that he doesn’t try to play cool heel at all. The MCW crowd genuinely dislikes him and wants to see him fail. Unfortunately, you can’t hear me shouting, “Enjoy your Saudi blood money” to Lochy during the match.
If I wanted to nitpick, I’d say that the interference from Lochy’s heater Miami got to be a bit too much, but it also set up Miami to finally eat a misaimed Spear from Loveryboy which has been a long-time coming. Danny Psycho gets the win with a cutter and the crowd explodes. The real finale to Lochy Hendricks’ Uncle Paul story happened the week after at WrestleRock (it involved the Time Warp, blood and a sing-a-long to Neverending Story). I don’t know where he is going next, but he proved at Ballroom Brawl that he’s one of the most talented performers in Australian Wrestling.
Post-match, Matty Wahlberg comes out to challenge Psycho and the match is set for MCW’s next show on August 31st. As big of a moment this match was for Danny Psycho, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wahlberg takes the belt next show.
MCW World Championship/SPW New Zealand Championship
Slex (c) def. JK Moody
A week prior, Slex defeated Markus Kool at SPW’s Southern Rumble show in New Zealand in a champion vs champion match. JK Moody won the titular match the same night to set up this contest.
Slex has been pretty much MCW’s top worker since he returned to the promotion in 2017 for the match against Okada. Moody is seen as one of New Zealand’s top prospects and has made a few appearances on MCW shows beforehand. An issue I had with Moody’s past MCW matches is that even in matches where he won (his debut vs Ritchie Taylor and his last match vs Taylor King), I came away a lot more interested in seeing more of his opponent rather than him. Whilst Moody has ‘The Antidote’ character, I think he still has work to do in injecting that character into his in-ring performance.
I think in terms of workrate this was the strongest match on the show. I’d also say that this is Moody’s strongest performance in MCW, and the first time he’d really lived up to the hype when working in Australia.
The match begins with Slex being all over Moody, but Moody is eventually able to take control. What Moody does well in this match is use his height and reach advantage to tell the story of him getting the upper hand over a more experienced opponent.
Slex is a phenomenal worker however and is eventually able to take control with a Tornado DDT on the outside. After a series of strike exchanges, Moody eventually hits a Tombstone but waits too long to get back on the offense after Slex kicks out. The dual champion is able to take the win with his Slexecution finish. A really strong and well-worked match that put over both men. It didn’t quite have the heat of the IC title fight, but in terms of technique was the strongest match on the card.
Adam Brooks wins the Ballroom Brawl Rumble
The night concluded with MCW’s annual Ballroom Brawl Rumble. Almost every promotion in Australia does a Rumble (seriously, there’s probably at least 1 or 2 every month throughout the country) but MCW is one of the few Australian promotions where it feels like an actual big deal.
The opening half of the match is the weakest in-ring part of the show. The match starts with newcomer Jett matching up with Atlas Whittaker, (the former Campbell Crawford). Atlas’ running-buddies Emmanuel and Shaun Young are the next two out, giving the newly formed Disruption a 3 on 1 advantage. Whilst the trio are able to get rid of some of the other entrants, they don’t eliminate Jett who has been their main target since forming.
Whittaker’s former tag partner Jake Lindo then returns and eliminates the Disruption leader. The highlight of this second act of the Ballroom Brawl is Fun Time Phil coming out wearing boxing gloves because he thought that he was entering the Ballroom Brawl-For-All. Eventually, the two members of The Brat Pack come out and start to dominate before turning on each other and being flukily eliminated by Gino Gambino’s manager Sebastian Walker.
Here we had the comedy portion of the match. The three members of Aunty Donna come out and eliminate Walker. Then Gino Gambino came out and the comedians basically ran away themselves. It was short, and even if I don’t really get much out of seeing people ‘play wrestler’ at a show; it wasn’t for me and other people mostly liked it. I did heartily join in the ‘Thank You Gino’ chants that followed. Next, Jax Jordan comes out to get murdered by Gino Gambino after previously being murdered by Jake Andrewartha.
Now we get to when this Rumble turns around; Gino Gambino all alone in the ring and the next entrant is a returning Adam Brooks. This was one of the biggest pops I’ve ever heard live. Majority of the crowd had no idea that Brooksy was returning to Australia early and he got a superstar reaction.
Brooks is really the focus of the rest of the match. DCT is in for a while until getting eliminated by Ritchie Taylor who takes out himself in the process. Hopefully, Taylor will get to smash up DCT’s face next show and can then move on up the card; as he’s been one of the real highlights of MCW this year. The last entrant into the match is Dowie James.
The former tag team champs eliminate Gino Gambino and end up facing off against each other as the final two. The announcers try and sell it as a split crowd, but from my memory, it was closer to 90-10 in favor of Adam Brooks. They have a strong sequence, each teasing an elimination until Brooks is finally able to get the win for another huge pop.
I have seen worse Rumbles than the first half of the 2019 Ballroom Brawl (I sat through one recently which had debutants for a quarter of the entries and it was the worst live match I’ve seen this year), but the start of this wasn’t great. Things massively picked up once Adam Brooks entered the match, and his return and win are two of the coolest wrestling moments I’ve seen live.
Post-match, Brooksy cuts his promo where he told us that someone had offered him a deal (if I had to put money on it, I’d guess WWE; though I’d love to see him get signed by AEW where I think he has a better shot at being a star rather than getting potentially lost in WWE’s talent warehouse). He tells the crowd that he isn’t signing with anyone until he has won the MCW World title. Slex comes out, and the match is set for MCW New Horizons. Slex vs Adam Brooks for the MCW World Championship.
Along with March’s Clash of The Titans, Ballroom Brawl was MCW’s strongest show of the year and one of the best Australian shows of the year so far. Talents leaving due to injury or going overseas is going to be a hurdle to overcome, but MCW looks to be in a good position to continue developing their own talent and bringing in the rest of Australia’s best to keep producing a high-quality product. MCW New Horizons has two killer main events and I’m keen to see what else is booked for the card.