Pro Wrestling Australia Black Label
Colosseum 2019 Night 1
October 18, 2019
Max Watts
Sydney, Australia

Watch: Ovo Play 

Sydney’s Pro Wrestling Australia launched its Colosseum Tournament at the end of 2018, with the final taking place at this past Feburary’s The Fight For Black Metal. With this year’s tournament, PWA ran the tournament over back to back nights. This very consciously feels like PWA’s attempt to turn Colosseum into an Australian equivalent of Battle of Los Angeles or Progress Wrestling’s Super Strong Style 16. 

Also, the prize for the winner is a sword called Green Thunder, which is just excellent. 

Kevin: For night 1, we have the regular PWA Black Label announce team of Andrew Rose and Kris Gale. They are a pair of Sydney radio announcers who started calling PWA in 2018. When the team started they were pretty awful and their worst tendency was their parochialism. For the first few months of Rose and Gale as the announce team, they would end up insulting any wrestler (and the fans watching on VOD) who didn’t come from Sydney. Thankfully this is a habit they have dropped and their work has improved (even if it sometimes lapses into radio patter rather than calling the match). What is confusing to me however is that PWA has Don Marnell of OTT fame working on their secondary Green Label shows; it feels like a waste of talent that they aren’t using him at the announcers’ table for Black Label shows as well. 

Colosseum also saw the return of PWA’s much loved ring-announcer Diego to the festivities. 

ScorpioCorp: I don’t pay that much attention to indy wrestling commentary, because it’s usually pretty bad. The PWA commentators tend to get lost in the background when I watch matches. I understand why Rose & Gale are the commentators because they are on Triple M (a national radio broadcaster) and PWA gains that exposure. Also, they fit the party vibe that PWA goes for. The main issue is with people not liking their ‘radio banter’ when they call a match and I’m personally not into their radio banter with their Triple M dad jokes (it’s a baby boomer station) and shit talk. But they seem to be improving with each show. Fuck, I love Don Marnell on pro wrestling commentary. This is a guy who got rave reviews from across the globe when he was the voice for that NJPW Melbourne event. I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe he’s busy with other jobs and stuff, but he seems to be at the shows as a fan. Anyway, Diego is back!

Colosseum 2019 Tournament Round 1
Ricky South def. Davis Storm 

Kevin: Davis Storm is coming off my personal Australian MOTY with his war against The Don at EPW’s Hell or Highwater. Ricky South had a short-lived heel turn where he joined the prudish faction SMS, but he returned back to himself on the last Black Label show. 

Ricky comes out with a drag queen and samba dancers accompanying him to the ring. All of the PWA roster members got special entrances for their tournament matches. Whilst Ricky South’s character moniker is ‘Flamboyant Aggression’, he is far more than just a gimmick. He’s a talented in-ring worker with a strong Japanese influence to his style. Tuff Stuff is one of the Australian workers who I think could blow up with international exposure. Matching him up with Davis Storm was smart matchmaking, as they complement each other well as opponents. 

Storm works heel here, quickly turning the crowd against him and continually attacking Ricky’s arm. This turns into a Japanese style slug-fest, with each man battering the other. My favorite spot in the match is Storm and South banging into each other with lariats, but neither man falls down. Ricky South eventually gets the win with a kiss and a piledriver to move onto the semi-finals. 

Post-Match, Storm offers his hand to Tuff Stuff only to take Ricky out and do more damage to his arm. It looks like PWA will be bringing back Davis Storm more regularly in the future; which is great to see as he’s one of the top veterans of the Australian scene and will make anyone he works with better. This was my favorite match of Night 1. ****¼ 

ScorpioCorp: South and Storm opened this match like two absolute pros. Ricky ‘Tuff Stuff’ South came out like it was Mardi Gras. Initially thought he was the person dressed in drag but I was mistaken. Enjoyed Storm working as heel with a bitter edge, which was reminiscent of his long heel run in EPW. The arm work on South was nicely done, especially with the way that South sold it at the right points of the contest. South had to adjust his gameplan with a one-handed piledriver. Disgruntled vet Storm gave a post-match attack to many boos. Fine way to get the crowd going. ***1/2

PWA Heavyweight #1 Contender
Shazza McKenzie def. Markus Kool, Carter Deams and Unsocial Jordan 

Kevin: At the very start of the year, PWA started a storyline where Shazza McKenzie wanted to challenge herself to win the PWA Heavyweight title. It felt like it was a sure thing that she would be winning this match, and that feeling ended up being accurate. 

This was a relatively quick sprint with Markus Kool being the stand out performer in the match. In most matches I’ve seen him work in Australia, his role has been to play the comedy football hooligan. Here he was more focused on doing highspots. Shazza got some power spots in, to further build her up for her title challenge. A fun four-way match that got the task it needed to do storywise done. ***

ScorpioCorp: I had a feeling Shazza was winning as the backstory was there. Not sure what to make of that. It’s over with the crowd but Shazza has her weaknesses as a performer and Ugg/McKenzie sounds like an absolute mismatch in a bad way (which I explained in the preview). Oh well. To the match itself, Marcus Kool was the clear standout. Has a banger theme (NAH NAH NAH, WE’RE GONNA SCORE ONE MORE THAN YOU, ENGLAND!), a brilliant character with his hot head soccer player persona and just has a ton of personality. And yeah, this was pretty much the Marcus Kool show. ***

Rory Gulak def. Tree Hugger Luchi

Kevin: Before the match, we get a promo video that Rory Gulak shot at the actual Colosseum itself. He mentions that his people built the Colosseum and this is the first time I’d heard that historical fact about our tribe. Who says that pro-wrestling can’t teach you anything?

This match is Tree Hugger Luchi’s return after he went off on a training excursion to the Fale Dojo. He was a comedy environmentalist gimmick before leaving, and whilst he’s still wearing Captain Planet themed tights he isn’t being portrayed as a comedy character. 

This is a total grapplefuck match, which doesn’t really get much of a reaction from the crowd. PWA has an audience that is very into its own cast of characters and it is difficult for guest talent to get over in front of them. Gulak’s straight-up wrestling deal didn’t really connect. Luchi did show more intensity than he had beforehand and it sounded like the crowd will take to him as a babyface.

Gulak won the match via submission, though it looked like Luchi tapped out before the hold was fully applied. Technically proficient match, but the least over contest of the night. ***

ScorpioCorp: Gulak comes out to his Catch Point entrance. Why Rory? CATCH POINT IS DEAD, YOU CAN’T JUST BE THE LONE MEMBER OF CATCH POINT LIKE THAT. NOT THE WAY IT WORKS! GRRRRRRRR! This was a grapplefuck exhibition and quite enjoyable. Luchi looked sharp after returning from the Fale Dojo and kept up with Gulak who got to show off his technical tricks. It added variety to this card which I appreciate. Eventually, Gulak would get the tap out win. ***1/4

Massive Q wins the Tag Team Gauntlet 

Kevin: This was solely a comedy match, with pretty much every other team being sacrificed for The Prefects comedy bit of no-one being able to kick out of their School Boy roll-up. The opener match runs longest, with the new team of Mat Diamond and Mat Rogers getting caught with the roll-up.  I was disappointed to see LUX (Kingsley and Xena) losing to a meme like everyone else, since they feel like an act who can get hot and I would be most interested in seeing them vs The Velocities out of any of the teams in this match. 

The finish comes with Massive Q entering the match and demolishing his own tag partner (Queensland’s Zac Reynolds), then literally squashing The Prefects for the win. Post-match, The Prefects say that Massive Q will face someone his own size the next night. This was solely a joke, and it was a joke that got tired for me. The pay-off on Night 2 worked out better, however. *½ 

ScorpioCorp: A long comedy match where The Prefects pinned almost everyone with a schoolboy which got big pops from the crowd. It was all silliness. That was until the man, myth and legend Massive Q was the last entrant in the gauntlet to destroy those Prefect kids. I first heard about the big man Massive Q on a Talk n Shop (Anderson & Gallows) podcast where Aussie wrestler ‘Jacko’ mentioned him on a segment where they talked about the worst gimmicks that they have come across. Massive Q was up there with the likes of Davey Boy Shits. 

Q squashed the two boys for the win and Prefects said that they will find someone who can beat him. It’s probably James Adultman and with the benefit of being in the future, I was correct. Anyway, I can’t fucking rate this match. It’s goofy fun. NR

Colosseum 2019 Tournament Round One
Matty Wahlberg def. Chris Basso 

Kevin: This opening round match pits the overwhelming smart money choice to take the tournament in Matty Wahlberg up against the Ace of Adelaide’s Riot City Wrestling in Chris Basso. 

Wahlberg enters with a Goldberg style entrance and is accompanied to Wahlberg chants. The hype documentary PWA ran for the tournament really put over Wahlberg’s story strongly and sold me on him as a sympathetic character. Chris Basso enters to the sounds of My Heart Will Go On and does the Titanic pose with PWA interviewer Frankie B. 

It never felt like Basso had a serious chance of winning this match, which somewhat hurt my investment in it. That being said, the work is good from both men. Wahlberg is ultra-charismatic and I really enjoy how he incorporates his MMA experience into his ring-style. Chris Basso is a smooth and experienced worker and the pair meshed well together. I’d be keen to see them rematch under different circumstances. Wahlberg ends up picking up the win to advance. ***¼ 

ScorpioCorp: Basso using his moves on Frankie B with that Titanic spot. What a smooth operator! Wahlberg gets the backstage Goldberg-esque entrance which got ‘WAHLBERG! WAHLBERG! WAHLBERG!’ chants. They had a good back and forth with Basso getting some shine and showing his ability. But Wahlberg was always going to win this. Triangle choke for the submission and Matty is constantly adding more MMA to his matches. ***1/4

Colosseum 2019 Tournament Round One
Travis Banks def. Sam Osbourne 

Kevin: Sam Osbourne’s entrance is preceded by a singer and back-up dancers doing the entrance song from the final fight in Creed 2. They then transition into his regular theme of Rubberband Man (the song that the Guardians are singing along to in their introductory scene in Avengers: Infinity War).

This match had great intensity and Sam Osbourne is likely going to be one of the next guys to become a star on the Australian scene. Osbourne is able to use his size and strength advantage to dominate much of the match, but Travis Banks is in his Terminator mode. My favorite spot in the match was when Osbourne tried to throw chairs at Banks on the outside only to have them get swatted away. 

Travis Banks ends up getting the win with his Slice of Heaven finish; which kind of comes off flat because no one watches NXT UK so no one had realized that he’d transitioned from using that as a set-up to the Kiwi Krusher to using it as a finish. ***¾ 

ScorpioCorp: Osborne got a spectacular entrance with the back-up singers/dancers (even though there was a slight fuck up with the mic). He looked like the coolest guy in the room. This was an intense, hard-hitting match with Osborne really brought it to Banks. The Kiwi Buzzsaw would get the victory with a sudden Slice of Heaven to advance. Disappointed that it didn’t go longer because I was really getting into it. ***1/4

The Nations (Jack Bonza/Mick Morretti/Jack Bonza) def. Caveman Ugg and The Velocities (Jude London/Paris De Silva) 

Kevin: With Morretti, Ugg and Paris De Silva all debuting for PWG over BOLA weekend, this felt like the most PWG style match of Colosseum weekend. Here we have two teams of strong workers put against each other in a six-man tag with the freedom to get as many spots in as possible. 

In terms of story, this was primarily used to tease the Caveman Ugg/Jack Bonza title match the next night. This match was just fun; fast-paced with great execution from all involved. The Nations took home the victory to further strengthen Bonza for his title challenge. ****

ScorpioCorp: I was pumped for this. A six-man lucha tag where they could go wild and they did just that. I have said this before, but the 4 Nations are tremendous bases for The Velocities. Extremely creative sequences throughout this contest because of how comfortable they were with each other. Then there are the strong style battles between Bonza & Ugg with those meaty strikes. Got me fired up for their PWA championship on the next night. Fantastic spot fest worked at a fast pace. Hoffman got a sneak pin to win. ****

Colosseum 2019 Tournament Round 1
Orange Cassidy def. Jessica Troy 

Kevin: Unsurprisingly Orange Cassidy came out and was extremely over. Now that I’ve realized that Cassidy comes out to the theme song from Wet Hot American Summer, I’m suddenly a lot more on-board with his shtick. He is exactly a character out of that universe. 

Jessica Troy also comes out to a big reaction and her entrance is accompanied by a wave of balloons. Before the match, a vignette is shown of Jessica Troy torturing a trainee trying to work out how to put an armbar on someone with their hands in their pockets. That ends up being very much the story of the match; Cassidy keeps his hands in his pockets and Jessica Troy wants to get them out of there to use the armbar. 

Much of this match is based on Cassidy’s shtick, so how much you’re into it will really depend on your feelings of his work. There are points where he raises the intensity, especially after Troy steals his sunglasses. The finish kind of comes out of no-where, with Cassidy getting a crucifix pin for the three. Post-match he shows respect to Jessica Troy, with his usual minimal enthusiasm. I thought that this was well-worked based on the characters involved but didn’t really connect with me as strongly as it did for the live crowd. ***¼  

ScorpioCorp: I didn’t dig the first half of this match with Cassidy doing his usual sluggish shtick that doesn’t have the same effect on me. Listen, I was a fan of Orange Cassidy back in his Gentleman’s Club days in Chikara but there’s only so many times where I can watch the same skit and find it less humorous. They did play into the fact that Troy wants to get the Fujiwara Armbar locked in but Cassidy always put his hands in the pockets. I adored the second half as it got more serious and the workrate lifted. Epic sequences at the end. Big pop for Troy muscling up Cassidy for a brainbuster to break out of a submission. Cassidy with a crucifix pin from out of nowhere. Interesting choice for the second round because I thought he would be the mystery partner for Rory Gulak on Night 2. ***1/4

Final Thoughts:

Kevin: I thought Night 1 was one of the stronger PWA shows of the year, with the only real downsides being some comedy that didn’t really work for me but will likely pop other people. Ricky South and Davis Storm started off by setting the bar for me in a way that no one else was able to hit on the night. I think the show overall is worth your time though, especially to get the proper context for the superior Night 2. 

ScorpioCorp: I actually like Night 1 more than Night 2. A well-paced and balanced show with PWA really making this feel like their biggest show of the year with the added pageantries. Arguably one of the best Australian wrestling shows of 2019. If the main event was stronger, it would be my number one (PWA The Fight For Black Metal beats this show on that merit). It also sets the stage for Night 2 in a major way that will be discussed in the next review.