EPW Re-Awakening XVIII
November 9, 2019
Gate One Theatre
Perth, Western Australia
Re-Awakening XVIII is the eighteenth birthday party for Explosive Pro Wrestling. This is an independent promotion based in the most isolated city in the world and EPW just surviving for this long is a tremendous achievement on its own. That EPW has and continues to produce world-class talent as well as put on top-level shows is a miracle of hard work and perseverance.
Re-Awakening is the last big EPW show of 2019. Whilst not quite up to the high standard of Hell or Highwater (which is currently my pick for Australian Show of the Year); Re-Awakening is another strong performance from the crew. In my opinion, EPW’s Gate One shows have had the most consistent level of quality of anything being produced on the Australian scene this year.
On commentary is Dean Olsen, Eric Mack and (for most of the show) Gorgeous Garry.
EPW Invitational Tournament Semi-Final
Dan Moore def. Gavin McGavin
These two faced each other in July with Gavin McGavin taking the win. Dan Moore got a shock win over Marcius Pitt to advance to the semi-finals whilst Gavin beat last year’s Invitational winner Gorgeous Garry to make it here.
McGavin’s whole message going into this show was that he was going to win the tournament and then he would cash in his EPW Championship match directly after the main event. There’s a lot of stalling to begin before the pair start into a chain wrestling sequence.
Everything in the match is well executed (particularly Moore’s elbow shots and McGavin’s counters). The match ends on somewhat of a surprise, with Moore hitting a Fisherman’s Buster into a small package for the victory. Post-match; Dan Moore being the nice guy that he shakes hands with fans at ringside and lifts a kid over the barricade to celebrate with him.
EPW Invitational Tournament Semi-Final
Julian Ward def. Kiel Steria
The second semi-final pits Julian Ward of The Untouchables up against Perth wrestling veteran Kiel Steria. Ward got the victory over Craven at Hell or Highwater and Steria beat Zenith to reach the semis. Ward is accompanied to the ring by The Untouchables manager Amber.
Julian starts the match by throwing his jacket into Kiel Steria’s face in an attempt to get a cheap roll-up victory. Soon after, Steria knocks his opponent off the apron into the barricade which allows him to hit a massive moonsault to the floor. Steria follows up with one of his big spots, a Splash Mountain where he throws Ward from the stage back onto the ring canvas.
Ward is able to take control of the match for a short while after this until Kiel gets back on offense. Eventually, Kiel goes for a 450, but misses when Amber pulls her charge to safety. Ward is then able to get the win with a messy looking version of his Bomb Valley Death finish. A good match that showcased Kiel Steria whilst also setting up the narrative for Ward’s tournament final later on in the night.
The Taskforce def. Tyler Jacobs/Taylor King
This is the most story-heavy match of the night with it being based around the narrative of troubled ex-child star Taylor King leaving behind his former lackeys to join Tyler Jacobs’ cult. Both teams have big entrances, with Tyler Jacobs and Taylor King being accompanied by every EPW trainee dressed up as cult members. The TK Taskforce have the above entrance, an elaborate homage to Avengers: Endgame that gets one of the biggest reactions of the night.
Both Tipene and Jack Edwards demonstrate that they’ve improved considerably as in-ring talents from where they were a year ago. This is much more about the narrative of Taylor King being conflicted over following his Father’s orders to attack his former friends.
When Tyler Jacobs looks like he’s in trouble, he kicks Tipene down low to forfeit the match. The Children jump into the ring to beat down Jack Edwards; then Taylor King looks like he’s going to join in but instead punches out Tyler Jacobs. The trio clear house on the Children and Taylor hits his Achy-Breaky Neck finisher on Jacobs. The trio are reunited to a big reaction. This was really about the moment rather than the match, but it’s one of the highlights of the show.
Jay Taylor def. Del Cano
Jay Taylor has positioned himself as The Gatekeeper of EPW, making it his aim to punish the new rookies coming into the promotion via the training school. Del Cano has been one of EPW’s most improved talents over 2019. He has mostly been appearing on the EPW School Showcases he took exception to Taylor’s behavior and challenged ‘The Prince of Perth’ to this match.
This is a relatively quick match, but the work is all well-executed. Del Cano gets to show off his high-flying skills whilst Jay Taylor gets to be a sleazy douchebag. Eventually, after going to the outside Del Cano gets held up by a poorly positioned referee allowing Jay Taylor to hit a cutter for the win.
Up next is a vignette of The Untouchables in the back, where Damian Slater tells Julian Ward to go out alone for his Invitational Tournament final so that no one talks up that he didn’t deserve the win after the match.
EPW Tag Team Championship – Claremont Street Fight
The Plague def. The Street Gang Hooligans (c)
This was set up at the last Gate One show, where The Plague attacked the reigning champions after their title defense. Plague members Dan Steel and Aaron Hawk represent the faction in this match. Street Gang Hooligans have held the EPW Tag Team Championship for a year and in my opinion, have been the top tag team in Australia in 2019.
This match is nuts with a heightened level of intensity I didn’t expect, considering the abbreviated build to the match. This pretty much starts off as a handicap match, with Plague members Twitch and Jonathan Windsor trying to attack the Hooligans from behind. However, the champions are able to duck the attack and turn the tables on their opponents for the opening stretch.
This match turns into an insane collection of spots; Alex Kingston doing a dive over the guardrail from a moving skateboard, Logan Grey doing a huge Shooting Star Press off a ladder to the outside and Logan being Angle Slammed through the merch table.
There’s a long four on one beatdown from Plague on Kingston until Grey is able to get back into the match and clear house. Logan Grey really puts in an all-time great performance in this match; showing tremendous fire and takes a series of insane risks throughout.
A disgusting bump sees Logan taking a top rope neckbreaker from Hawk onto a ladder laying down on the mat. He returns the favor by double stomping Steel into thumbtacks and then laying out Hawk with a Destroyer into the tacks.
Twitch sacrifices himself to take out Kingston; Plague hit all their finishes on Grey and that’s the match. A clear match of the night, highlighted by Logan Grey going all out and looking like an absolute superstar.
Unfortunately, this is Logan’s last match for the foreseeable future as it was announced that he is going on an indefinite hiatus from wrestling a week later. What a hell of a performance for Logan to go out on though and EPW has put it up online for free:
EPW Invitational Tournament Final
Julian Ward def. Dan Moore
As set-up earlier in the show, Julian Ward enters without Amber backing him up. I wish that Dan Moore was being seconded by his protege Jesse Lambert (whose character work I’ve loved this year). After his first match, Moore is coming into this one with taped-up ribs.
Straight away, Moore hit Ward with a big knee and then a TKO to try get the snap victory. Ward is able to kick out and get his bearings. Ward works the ribs with an Abominable Stretch and Torture Rack until an attempt at a suplex goes wrong and Moore sends them both crashing to the outside.
Next they have a striking sequence, then Ward hits his finish again but Dan Moore kicks out. Next Moore gets some near-falls with a variety of roll-ups but Ward eventually hits his big lariat and then hits Bomb Valley Death again for the victory.
Julian Ward gets the victory and becomes the 2019 Invitational Tournament victor. Ward is one of the top up-and-comers in Australian wrestling and it feels like this is the point where EPW are committing to elevating him to a main-event level.
The Untouchables def. Davis Storm and Richter
This is the match that has the most history behind it. The Untouchables (Marcius Pitt and Damian Slater) are the current top heels in the promotion. Davis Storm and Richter are two of EPW’s originals and were the top heel faction in EPW for roughly four years as The Solution. The tagline for the match is Generational Warfare.
The contest starts with Storm and Slater exchanging holds and testing each other out. Then when Storm tags in Richter, Slater immediately tags out. The narrative of the match very much turns into both Pitt and Slater trying to avoid Richter as much as possible.
This is a well-worked match from four veterans. The Untouchables dominate until they make some key mistakes (highlighted by Amber accidentally eating a thrust kick from Slater). Richter and Storm hit a Doomsday Enzuigiri for their closest nearfall.
Eventually, Pitt is able to deadlift Richter into a F5 to take down the big man. Slater hits his finish on Storm, but The Godfather kicks out at one. Untouchables hit their F5/Cutter combo and the match is done with the current generation taking the victory.
Mikey Nicholls def. Michael Morleone (c)
Since leaving WWE, Mikey Nicholls has looked most comfortable in his home promotion of EPW. Maybe it’s the crowd having the pre-existing investment in him that New Japan crowds don’t have, but he comes off as a star in EPW. In his return to EPW, he is unbeaten with three wins to his name. He faces ‘The Don’ Michael Morleone, who has been EPW’s lead babyface for two years and has shined in the role.
Nicholls jumps the champion to start and the match quickly becomes a slugfest. These are two very sound and confident pro-wrestlers who beat the crap out of each other for most of the match. Don takes multiple chops from his challenger, (Nicholls is well known for having the most brutal chops in the EPW locker room). Mikey is able to dominate for much of the match until Don is able to hit a rare Suicide Dive to regain momentum.
The big angle in the match sees the referee get inadvertently taken out by a Mikey Nicholls lariat. Don hits his Chokebomb with no one to make the count. At this point, Marcius Pitt and Damian Slater run in to help their TMDK brother get the victory. Mikey rejects their help though, and once they’ve been run off he goes to hit his Diving Lariat but Don collapses to avoid it.
Both men kick out of each other’s finishes; and then Mikey hits a series of lariats on a valiant Morleone to take the win. This is the best singles match I’ve seen from Mikey since he’s left WWE. Post-match they show respect to each other and Mikey bows to the EPW logo on the canvas. It looks like the direction for the start of 2020 will see The Untouchables chasing down their former friend (and possibly with the appearances of other Chaos members such as Robbie Eagles).
Re-Awakening XVIII is a strong show and a fitting celebration of the company’s eighteenth birthday. Whilst not having the same level of production values as Melbourne City Wrestling or PWA Black Label; if you want to check out a collection of six very good shows in front of hot crowds then I strongly recommend checking out EPW’s 2019 collection.