Clash of the Titan 2020
February 1, 2020
The Thornbury Theatre
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Melbourne City Wrestling’s first show of the year, Vendetta was a major success. My esteemed colleague ScorpioCorp sang its praises in his review for Voices of Wrestling. Joe and Rich on the Flagship also gave Vendetta a rave review on the VOW Flagship.
Let’s start off this review with an obvious caveat; no Clash of the Titans isn’t as strong a show as Vendetta was. However, to expect every MCW show to reach those heights is putting unrealistic expectations on the promotion. You can’t book Will Ospreay vs Dowie James every month when you’re an Australian independent.
However, if you look at Clash of the Titans on its own merits, you’ll find that it is a good show highlighted by a really strong main event and one of the company’s hottest stars being crowned champion. There are two major flaws on the show; one caused by technical problems that are no fault of the performers and the other a case of an angle being executed poorly.
On commentary is Lord Andy Coyne and Lindsay Howarth (Lindsay helpfully informs us that Krackerjak couldn’t make the show because he was suffering from sexual exhaustion.)
The show opens up with Dowie James interrupting Lord Andy’s opening address to deliver a sermon. Dowie is just at a god-tier level as a heel now. He rips on the fans for their selfishness, calling back to the ‘Suspenders’ chants from New Horizons which bugged me so much. Whilst everything Dowie says is true about the fans; he adds enough dickishness to his point that he’s still a heel.
Then he gets to his point, calling out Royce Chambers, someone who he sees as being unfairly pushed by the likes of fans and Joe Lanza considering that Royce hasn’t won a match in MCW. Royce comes out and they have a confrontation. I think that this is very smart booking to put Dowie and Chambers into a program together considering that they are the performers who came out of Vendetta with the most interest on them.
ZANE ZODIAC DEF. ZEKE ANDINO AND ROYCE CHAMBERS
The angle transitions straight away into the opener, which is meant to showcase 3 new talents to MCW. Zane Zodiac has made some squash match appearances over the past year and years ago teamed with Ritchie Taylor. He has a match coming up on February 22nd against Sammy Guevara for the minor Victorian group Adrenaline Pro Wrestling. Zeke Andino is a Queensland wrestler who was trained at Seth Rollins’ school.
It starts off very fast, with all three men getting some spots in. This is ultimately more about an angle rather than having a 4 star match. Pretty quickly, Dowie comes out and yanks Chambers off the turnbuckle. He then proceeds to Pilmanise the young man’s knee, leaving Royce on the outside being tended to by officials. The match continues in-ring between the other two competitors until Royce gets back into the match on one leg. He does a good job of showing guts and hitting big moves whilst selling that his one leg is useless. Eventually he gets caught with a variant of an Enziguri off the top rope from Zodiac who takes the win. It’s a pity that neither of the other men in the match played heel; because they would have gotten something out of being the sleazy bad guy getting the cheap win in this scenario. However, I thought overall this did a really effective job of setting up a Dowie vs Royce feud.
JAKE ANDREWARTHA def. LEO PRATT
Before the match, we get the great Jake Andrewartha video package from Vendetta again. This feels like we’re finally moving on from the Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist just doing squash matches and we’re going to see what he can really do.
‘The Mad Lad’ Leo Pratt made his MCW debut at Vendetta in a losing effort against Jett Rouka. He clearly played heel in that match; I guess he played babyface in this one. Honestly, I’m not sure what he was doing here. He had some spots where he was acting like a creep to Andrewartha’s Coach Siren Monroe, including sniffing her hair. If he was meant to be the good guy here, then he came off like a sleazeball rather than a fun Aussie bloke.
Pratt gets a little bit of hope offense in, including the Braun Strowman ‘big guy runs into the post’ special. Eventually, Andrewartha is able to get the advantage again and put Pratt away.
Post-match we get a little clip of AJ Istria challenging Andrewartha. Istria is the head coach at Adelaide’s Wrestle Rampage and is seen as being one of the top MMA-influenced wrestlers in the country. It looks like we’re finally getting to the Fireworks Factory with Jake Andrewartha and we’re going to see him against someone else with shoot credentials.
MCW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONTENDER
THE VELOCITIES (JUDE LONDON/PARIS DE SILVA) DEF. MILE HIGH CLUB (TYSON BAXTER/JETT ROUKA)
Before the match, we have a video package highlighting that The Velocities want to establish themselves in Melbourne after coming up short in their last appearance at Ballroom Brawl.
This match is not only The Velocities return to MCW, but it is Tyson Baxter’s return to the ring after almost a year out with a knee injury. The match begins with some really nice chain wrestling between the two teams. During this first part of the match; I thought that the Velocities (particularly Paris De Silva) did a good job of playing subtle heel. Tyson tagging in to enter the ring for the first time in 329 days was a cool moment that got a good reaction.
Unfortunately, through no fault of the performers the match falls apart pretty quickly from this point. There is a problem with the lights which blow out. For the rest of the match the lighting keeps flicking back on and off, which breaks the flow of a match that was developing really nicely. Maybe if a minority of the crowd had not gotten distracted by flickering lights; it would have lessened the impact of the technical issues on the match.
Here's my official crowd review from @mcitywrestling Clash of the Titans:
Selfish crowd without a modicum of self awareness. Lost points for that one guy trying to interrupt EVERYTHING with the same joke plus the disrespect shown to the tag during the power outage
— 'Inimitable' Dowie James (@DowieJames) February 3, 2020
Jude London picks up the win with a variation on a Victory Roll. Hopefully this match will happen again so the two teams can show what they can do without being encumbered by technical difficulties.
MCW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
AVARY def. STEPH DE LANDER (c)
It is not a secret that I am an Avary superfan. When I was reviewing Underworld Wrestling for VOW, I argued that she was the stand-out performer of the promotion’s short run. Watching her develop into a star over the past couple years has been one of my favorite parts of watching Australian wrestling.
This is Steph De Lander’s second defense of the MCW Women’s Championship after she became the inaugural champion in October last year. I think that Avary has consistently been SDL’s best opponent in singles matches and this was the best-structured match I’ve seen the Python Powerhouse have. In particular, I thought that the addition of chops to her arsenal helped get over her power and presence in the ring in a more effective way than past matches.
Avary’s character work in the match is excellent and she leans deeper into the idea that she’s a masochist who draws energy from pain here than she has before. There’s an Ishiiesque spot where Avary gets right up after a German Suplex which gets a big reaction. Avary is able to get the win with a Hammerlock DDT on the floor; rolling SDL into the ring and hitting Daddy Issues for the championship.
This was a really awesome moment for me, seeing someone I’ve been a big supporter of getting the recognition they have earnt and being positioned as the top female star in MCW. The moment gets gatecrashed by Kellyanne, who comes out to moan about how she was the cornerstone of the MCW women’s division for years but has fallen behind Avary. This felt like a full-on heel promo to me. Kellyanne seems like someone who is failing to follow the rule, ‘Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.’ A championship match for the pair is set for MCW’s March 21st date. With Adam Brooks being on tour in the US on that date; I hope that they run with Avary vs Kellyanne as the main event. I think their past matches against each other have proven that they would be up to the task of closing out a Thornbury Theatre show.
Following on we have the latest installment of Bastard TV. This is the big promo for Krackerjak establishing why he wants to come back to wrestling following his retirement at the end of 2017. Weird, psychological and bloody; I think it is really effective and hits at that primal self-destructive streak which so many wrestlers have.
LOCHY HENDRICKS def. MARCUS KOOL
This match is Lochy Hendricks’ return to MCW after losing to Danny Psycho at Ballroom Brawl and having his contract offer from ‘Uncle Paul’ rescinded after he chose to delay his Florida move to get revenge on Drunk Uncle Beej at WrestleRock. The Loverboy has returned with a new hippy gimmick and is portraying himself as a babyface (for now).
Marcus Kool is one of the key figures behind New Zealand’s Southern Pro Wrestling and has a soccer hooligan gimmick. He has been a semi regular visitor to MCW and PWA Black Label over the past two years. This is the first time I’ve seen Kool play heel in Australia, rather than a comedy babyface doing schtick with red and yellow cards.
I enjoyed this match, particularly Kool’s viciousness. It feels like it will take a little bit of time for Lochy Hendricks to get the new character over but I thought that this was a strong showing from both men. The match has a hot finishing sequence; and Loverboy gets the win with a STF/Muta Lock combination.
They will rematch on February 8th at SPW’s Fight for Gold event in New Zealand.
Up next is a video promo going over Mike Burr and Ritchie Taylor’s history together, which is then followed by a backstage promo with the Mile High Club. The two teams will face each other at MCW’s next major show. It feels like there’s a concerted effort to rebuild the tag team division this year.
MCW INTERCOMMONWEALTH CHAMPIONSHIP
CAVEMAN UGG def. DANNY PSYCHO (c)
I really like the beginning of this match and the middle of this match. The finish where it devolves into a continuation of the Danny Psycho stalker angle loses me.
It begins with Caveman Ugg and Psycho doing big man lucha spots which is really fun. These two compliment each other well and I really want to see a rematch that doesn’t have to play second fiddle to a weak angle.
There’s a really cool chop battle between the fighters, followed up by some big dives to the outside. Then we get into the interference. Danny Psycho hits a cutter, but gets distracted by a guy on the outside in a mask. He goes to knock him down and then another one appears. There are a couple minutes of Psycho getting distracted by masked goons, and then he goes back into the ring and gets caught with a slam by Ugg to lose the match and title.
Post-match another masked man comes out and reveals himself to be Edward Dusk; who gets a ‘who are you and why should we care’ reaction from the crowd. Dusk is a wrestler from another promotion in Victoria, Professional Championship Wrestling who was trained by Psycho and isn’t known by the MCW audience at all. The goons and Dusk attack Psycho and that’s the end of the angle.
This reminded me in a bad way of Dark Order’s introduction to AEW. A bunch of masked guys attacking a wrestler in a way that isn’t particularly impressive and doesn’t mean much to the audience. I thought that using all the extras diminished Dusk’s debut rather than making him feel special. A babyface Caveman Ugg winning the title in this sort of cheap fashion also undercuts his character and moment.
Following on from this is a video promo announcing Jimmy Havoc for the next MCW show. It gets a big pop from the audience. Even if some fans in the US/UK have gone cold on Havoc, he is still seen as a big star by Australian audiences. His match against Mad Dog at WrestleRock last January was my favorite Havoc match I saw last year outside of the Cracker Barrel Clash. They teased a Havoc vs Krackerjak match at that show and that would be a big deal for Krackers in-ring return if he’ll be physically ready by then.
Before we get to the tag title match, there is a backstage segment with Edward Dusk being interviewed by Anna Ashley. I think that Anna is very effective in her role as a backstage interviewer; but her presence here kind of killed this segment for me (by no fault of her performance). Dusk gives his reasoning for attacking Psycho and his delivery is fine. My issue is that the segment kind of automatically establishes him as just another guy. The character we had seen in vignettes so far was portrayed as a criminal stalking Danny Psycho’s family. At this point in time, he doesn’t feel like someone who should just be interviewed like a normal wrestler. He should be presented as dangerous and different from the rest of the roster; not someone who will do a standard backstage interview.
Wrestling (especially Australian Wrestling) is littered with ‘dark’ characters and gimmicks that have failed. I am willing to give Dusk the benefit of the doubt and see how he has developed as a performer now that he is in the MCW training ecosystem. However, I came away from the big start of this program feeling like it was a misfire.
MCW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
THE BRAT PACK (NICK BURY/MITCH WATERMAN) (c) def. The NATURAL CLASSICS (STEVIE FILIP/TOME FILIP)
This is the fourth encounter between these two teams. Whilst not as memorable as their last match; (where Nick Bury got his chin destroyed) it is a generally strong match.
It felt like the Filip Brothers worked slightly more of a subtle heel role in the match; I’ve suspected since Vendetta that they are on a slow burn heel turn. The match itself starts off in a dynamic manner, with the brother jumping off the stage ramp and over the top rope to flatten The Brat Pack.
The match ends with Nick Bury getting a sneaky schoolboy roll-up holding the tights. The Brat Pack are positioned as babyfaces now but haven’t significantly changed their character. Post-match The Velocities come out to challenge The Brat Pack. This is two of the top teams in Australia against each other for the first time, and it will be intriguing to see how the match turns out. Honestly, I hope that the Velocities go heel in the match and play into the Melbourne/Sydney rivalry to establish the dynamic.
Before the main event there is a brief vignette of an irate Steph De Lander throwing Anna Ashley over a table when asked about her title loss. This feels like a set-up for something. I’d be very pleased if this is a set-up for Ashley’s surrogate daughter Stella Nyx to debut in MCW to avenge her mother.
MCW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
ADAM BROOKS (c) def. DAVIS STORM
This match was the highlight of the show. For people into star ratings, I’d go ****¼ for this contest. This is a first-time match-up between Adam Brooks and Davis Storm and it is a well-worked and smartly constructed World title match.
For those unfamiliar with Davis Storm; he is The Godfather of Australian Wrestling. He was one of the founders of Perth’s Explosive Pro Wrestling and has been performing for 20 years. His championship match last year against ‘The Don’ Michael Morleone was my Australian MOTY (I went ****¾).
In this match, he is the wily veteran trying to get a hold of one of the few prizes in Australian wrestling that has eluded him. Adam Brooks is the charismatic hometown champion defending his title. The Loose Ledge dominates the beginning of the match but gets cocky and the veteran is able to start breaking the champ down.
In particular, I really like the focus that Storm put into attacking Brooks arm. This plays into later in the match, when Brooks can’t pull off all of the slings he wants to do because of the damage. Storm’s closest shot at winning in the ring comes from a sick swinging variation of the Killshot which he then transitions from into an armbar.
Storm is able to goad Brooks to the outside and gives him a sick looking Alabama Slam onto the apron. Everyone involved does a good job of selling the potential of a referee stoppage and title change. Once Brooks is able to get back into the ring, he is quickly able to pull off the victory with a Swanton to finish a strong main event from two top-class professional wrestlers.
Brooks next title defense is actually set for Prestige Wrestling in Portland, Oregon where he’ll defend against TJ Perkins. That is a potentially excellent match and I’d strongly recommend that anyone in the area check it out.
A good show to continue Melbourne City Wrestling’s strong start to 2020. Whilst not a complete home-run like Vendetta was; Avary’s championship win and the main event are well worth your time.