EPW Collision Course 2021
April 17, 2021
Gate One Theatre
Perth, Western Australia
Watch: vimeo.com/ondemand/epwfromthevault/556512197 / Photo Credit: facebook.com/pix.photography
Kevin Chiat: Collision Course was EPW’s third major show of the year following the two-night Re-Awakening event that happened in January. Those two nights somewhat suffered in terms of individual show quality by being primarily devoted to setting up storylines for the upcoming year (though the two best matches from the double-header – Don vs Mikey Nicholls and Taskforce vs Two and a Half Wrestlers have both been uploaded to EPW’s YouTube page).
Collision Course however is right up there with EPW’s best shows in their history. A great night of pro wrestling, highlighted by what is a MOTY contender for me in Gavin McGavin vs Marcius Pitt.
I’m honored to welcome back my Australian Wrestling reviewer compatriot ScorpioCorp for this show and in deference to him (and to give some consistency to the review’s aesthetics), I’ll be doing something different to normal and giving out those dreaded star ratings.
EPW COASTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
AARON HAWK DEF. DAVIS STORM (c)
Kevin: As I highlighted in my Out of The Ashes review, Aaron Hawk was clearly someone who was going to be pushed in EPW in 2021. This was set up with Hawk jumping Davis Storm after his title defense on Night 1 of Re-Awakening and then followed up on Night 2 where Hawk was a dick to his retiring Plague stablemate Dan Steel.
This was a good professional wrestling match and I think it speaks to the strength of this card that it’s arguably one of the night’s weaker matches. Aaron Hawk has leveled up recently, both in terms of his ability to deliver in-ring and his ability to come off as a total prick.
The finish sees Plague member Jonathan Windsor returning to screw around with Davis Storm. His interference turns the momentum Hawk’s way though the actual finish with Hawk hitting a Vertebreaker is mostly clean. I feel like it would have been more effective for either Windsor to actively screw over Storm or for Hawk to win clean and then have his running buddy come out for a post-match two-on-one attack. Whilst I’m somewhat disappointed in the result, as it felt like there was more to get out of Davis Storm having a “John Cena 2015 US title reign” style run with the Coastal Belt; I am still interested in seeing what direction things go with Aaron Hawk as the new champion. ***½
ScorpioCorp: The former AZ Vegara used to be a wrestler that I found quite dull. Since joining heel stable Plague in 2019 and changing into Aaron Hawk, he feels reinvigorated and wrestles with more of an edge. He has a ‘character from a Guy Ritchie film’ vibe to him. Anyways, an envious Hawk stole Storm’s title on a previous show to raise the champ’s ire and that led to this contest. It was a great back and forth match-up between two veterans. A nicely worked opener that didn’t last too long with some smart offense from Storm and nasty impact moves from Hawk. There was interference from Plague member Johnathon Winsor on Storm, but it wound up being ineffective. However, a devastating Vertebreaker secured the surprising title win for Aaron Hawk. Well-deserved for a guy who has really lifted his game in recent times and become a workhorse for EPW. ***½
Kevin: In between the first two matches we had a strong in-ring promo from ‘The Don’ Michael Morleone where he challenged Damian Slater for Evolution in June. Having been at Evolution a few days ago, I can say that the eventual match delivered and will hopefully be available in the not-to-distant future (but I’ll save my commentary on VOD upload times for the final thoughts).
JULIAN WARD DEF. KAZ JORDAN
Kevin: This is Kaz Jordan’s second major appearance on an EPW show. His first match at Re-Awakening against Davis Storm didn’t really fully click with me (though a lot of that was being there live and having to try to chant against his obnoxious football mates who had come just to see his debut). However, this match rocked (though as I’ll get into, I think it just misses notebook territory because they go past the peak of the match).
The one major issue with this match presentation-wise is that Chris J Lazareth is a special guest on the announce desk, but his mic wasn’t properly set up so for the first half of the match you can just hear the other announcers responding to silence.
The match itself is really good; Julian Ward comes off as EPW’s next top babyface especially with his new Australian Cowboy gimmick (little kids at shows have taken to calling him Sheriff Wardy). It is worked like a classic modern babyface vs babyface style match. As I said earlier, my major critique is that there’s an awesome spot near the end where Ward hits a top-rope powerbomb and then his Lariat finish. This would have been the perfect spot to finish the match, however, they go a little bit too long past this point and thus miss the match’s emotional peak.
Post-match; Chris J Lazareth convinces Kaz Jordan to turn heel and join up with him. I wish there had been another show to let this simmer; the turn felt like it came too early and it needed another couple of months of Kaz being frustrated about not getting the win whilst playing fairly. I get that we’re in a weird time right now where you can’t guarantee that your next show will actually take place which makes slow-burn storylines harder to pull off. I was impressed with the debut of Jordan’s new persona at Evolution, but I will hold my commentary on that back for the next review. ***¾
ScorpioCorp: Kaz Jordan had a big debut in EPW on the January shows. He won a battle royal to face Davis Storm for the Coastal Championship later that night, which he lost. However, I thought he was disappointing as he looked sloppy at points and didn’t come off as that exciting of a prospect. But I now definitely understand the hype for him after seeing this match.
He bumped like a madman for Julian Ward while also showing some fun offence of his own. Jules has embraced an ‘Aussie Hangman Page’ gimmick (minus the alcoholism) which is doing well and he also has a killer lariat like Hangman that got him the win. All comparisons aside, Ward is looking really sharp at the moment and Kaz was very exciting to watch.
Should also note that Kaz turned heel after the match by attacking the ring crew, which I’m not sure about because I think there’s more value in him as a babyface underdog but it’s too early to judge. He’s going to be managed by Chris J Lazarus who seems like a solid heel mouthpiece. ***¾
FOUR-WAY TAG FOR NUMBER 1 CONTENDERSHIP FOR THE EPW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
DEL CANO/ZENITH DEF. TWO AND A HALF WRESTLERS (DAN MOORE/JESSE LAMBERT), THE CHILDREN (STELLA NYX/CHADWICK JACKSON) AND CUT THROAT AND THEN SOME (CASEY JOHNS/JAMES HARTNESS)
Kevin: This was just fun. The big story of the match is really how goddamn over Jesse Lambert was. Jesse has been killing it in his Student Wrestler gimmick, and when his other Dad, Bobby Marshall wasn’t able to make the show, he pestered Dan Moore for weeks to let him compete in this match. Before the match, we had a vignette of Moore finally giving in and gifting Jesse his first pair of wrestling trunks.
All the other wrestlers in the match performed well, particularly Del Cano and Zenith who are starting a new team (possibly, jury is still out as to whether they will be together long term or whether this is leading to a singles feud). There’s a whole sequence where everyone is hitting spectacular dives to the outside, but the crowd is just chanting “Jesse” as he waits on the apron to get tagged in.
Zenith gets the win with an Octopus Stretch on Stella Nyx, leading to a stand-off between him and the tag champs The Taskforce who were out at ringside as guest commentators. I appreciate that The Taskforce went out of their way to come out wearing blazers for the occasion and actually look like pros. ***½
ScorpioCorp: This was quite a well-worked four-way tag match with everyone playing to their strengths. Del Cano and Zenith had some cool high spots (Zenith’s double rope senton is a thing of beauty), Nyx did some creative offense, Chadwick was an imposing figure, Johns and Hartness were hard-hitting and lastly, Two & A Half Wrestlers are a really fun act.
In particular, Jesse Lambert’s‘ L-plate’ trainee character is super over and provided great comedic moments. The new team of Del Cano and Zenith got the win and rightly so. They were extremely impressive and it’s the right direction for these lads who have currently hit a ceiling as singles wrestlers but could really excel as tag workers. ***1/4
DAMIAN SLATER DEF. BRUNO NITRO
Kevin: Bruno Nitro has been floating around the undercards of Perth Wrestling for a while. He’s a skillful technical wrestler but has struggled to break through to the next level. This felt like a coming-out party for him though. Damian Slater is a phenomenal talent and the perfect guy to test if Nitro has another gear. I really enjoyed this, and thought that it was Nitro’s best performance so far. Slater is just a master technician and they worked this perfectly to give you the idea that Nitro could score the big upset.
Post-match, Slater accepts Don’s challenge for Evolution but only if it’s a submission match. ****
ScorpioCorp: Bruno is a young up-and-coming wrestler who’s struggling to get Gate 1 (EPW main show) wins. He faced his biggest challenge to date against one of Australia’s best in Damian Slater. They had a lovely little match with arguably Bruno’s best showing to date. Slater is a guy that I underestimate because I constantly forget just how fluid he is. He’s so great and Nitro did a good job in keeping up with him. The youngster got a few nice close falls but eventually Slater got him into a submission to get the tapout. ***¼
MARCIUS PITT DEF. GAVIN MCGAVIN
Kevin: I fucking loved this match.
This has been built since March 2020, when Gavin McGavin turned face by laying out Marcius Pitt in his Coastal Title loss to Davis Storm. The pandemic turned this into a year-long build to this first time (in EPW at least) match-up.
So I’m somewhat biased looking at this, because Pitt has been my favorite EPW talent since I got back into the promotion in 2015. He’s in the form of his career at the moment and is in phenomenal shape. I have said this before, but Pitt is so smart at building a match and at working heel whilst still putting on a workrate clinic. He very much shows up the lazy mindset that you need to bore the crowd to be a proper heel in modern indy wrestling. There are many people in wrestling that COVID has fucked over – and Australia is still a long way from being in a place where you can safely book interstate talent and guarantee that COVID outbreaks won’t end up canceling the booking—but every decent promotion in the country should be looking at bringing in Marcius Pitt as a main eventer.
In a COVID-free world, he should be being booked internationally. Hell, in a fairer world, Pitt should be signed (but 2016 WWE thought he was too short, which is just ludicrous in retrospect). Imagine Pitt as the Power Junior of United Empire. I absolutely think he’s one of the most underutilized talents in the world and in VOW Flagship terminology a sure-fire candidate for the Dumb Jock Wrestler pantheon.
This match was the best babyface performance I’ve seen from McGavin (even if I was leading the Marcius Pitt cheer section on the night). McGavin is another one of the top-level talents to have come out of EPW and he does a great job throughout this match in playing the fiery babyface who has physically bitten off more than he can chew.
The whole story of the match is that McGavin is too fired up and wants to fight Pitt rather than playing to his strengths in technical wrestling; which ends up costing him. There is a real sense of danger and genuine tension with these two against each other. They sell genuine animosity in a way that the vast majority of indy wrestling has just given up on even trying to do. If you want a crisply executed and vicious match (which doesn’t resort to easy plunder for a pop), then this is for you.
McGavin screws himself over in the end, legitimately injuring his wrist on a strike that leads to him eating an F5. It was a finish I didn’t see coming (honestly, I thought going in that we were likely looking at a Double-DQ and pull-apart brawl to set up a gimmick match); but it ended up going in a very different direction.
I’ve been somewhat estranged from most TV wrestling during the pandemic and burn-out over the past year has made it difficult for me to enjoy much indy wrestling. This is a match that reminds me why I love this dumb play-fighting shit. My current MOTY – my strongest recommendation possible (what’s scary as well is that you can argue that their rematch was even better). *****
ScorpioCorp: A feud that has been a year in the making (mainly because of the big COVID gap). Gavin turned face by standing up to EPW’s bully Marcius Pitt on last year’s Going For Broke show. They finally wrestle each other after months of costing each other title matches, heated exchanges and brutal sneak attacks. In the early stages, Pitt tries to play it cool by dictating the pace and goading a fiery McGavin into mistakes.
However, McGavin would be hard to contain as he would land clubbing blows. Not to be outdone, Pitt would lift his intensity to take control of the match and it was a bruising assault. Pitt’s over confidence in a slap exchange proved to be a mistake and Gavin mounted a spirited comeback. Pitt does an incredible Texas Cloverleaf giant swing in this match. Both guys would trade counters in the later part until Gavin connected with a hard, straight fist that would be costly for him as it compromised his hand.
He would struggle to lock in his crossface hold and Pitt would capitalize with an emphatic F-5 for the victory. A stiff, grueling affair with a tremendous finish. Loved the ‘late in the match’ injury & McGavin sold the hand like a pro. A MOTY candidate. ****½
EPW INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT FINAL
KIEL STERIA DEF. TYLER JACOBS
Kevin: On the January shows, Tyler Jacobs beat Del Cano and Kiel Steria beat Zenith to get to this tournament final. This is a complete squash and it was absolutely the right choice. Bold decision for EPW to go this route with what is traditionally one of EPW’s premiere matches of the year; but considering its placement on the card and what it needed to do storyline-wise, this was perfect.
Kiel Steria is Shane Thorne/Slapjack’s original tag partner, who has been a long-time veteran in EPW. He briefly had a run as a main eventer in 2013 but has otherwise dipped in and out of tag-teams for the past few years. He’s a big boy with similar agility for his size to what Danny Psycho from MCW has. He’s someone who has always felt like there was room for him to be a bigger player in the promotion’s singles main event scene.
He just steamrolls fellow veteran Tyler Jacobs here. It is great and necessary to give Kiel Steria the credibility to challenge Mikey Nicholls who has been built as a beast in EPW. NR (but if you want to look at an effective example of a squash, it’s pretty much perfect)
ScorpioCorp: This is awesome. It’s just a Goldberg-esque squash by Kiel Steria who does a couple of badass power moves and he wins in under two minutes. I love Kiel Steria. He has a quality ‘dumb jock wrestling’ vibe to him that’s appreciated here at Voices of Wrestling. Just a fucking awesome squash
MIKEY NICHOLLS (c) DEF. ROBBIE EAGLES
Kevin: Pretty much all of Mikey Nicholls best work since leaving WWE has been in EPW. I don’t know how much of it comes down to his comfort performing at home or the pre-existing investment the local crowd has in him, but he shines in this environment.
Mikey is undefeated in EPW and turned heel in January to reform TMDK as the promotion’s top heel stable. I am honestly a bit disappointed at the heel turn as I thought Mad Mikey as the tweener dominant champion was a really compelling character and he’s someone who doesn’t need shenanigans to win.
Robbie Eagles is the biggest name talent currently working in Australia and this was a natural match to make considering their shared New Japan stable. If anything, I wish this could have been built a little longer, with a storyline of Eagles being disappointed in how Nicholls is diminishing the CHAOS name with his actions in Perth. But, this is COVID times and planning out complex stories that require interstate travel is a bad idea (EPW were lucky in that basically two days after this show we had another week-long snap lockdown as COVID escaped into the community from hotel quarantine).
This is a really good match from two total pros. The finish with Mikey outwrestling Eagles was smart and a tap-out that the ref didn’t see leaves the door open for a rematch. Timing-wise, I kind of wish this had come a little later after Mikey’s heel turn, but as I said above – expecting perfect timing for slow-burn storylines at the moment is a fool’s game. ****¼
ScorpioCorp: The undefeated (in Australia since exiting WWE) Mikey Nicholls faced his toughest defense against Robbie Eagles. Billed as a CHAOS vs CHAOS dream match (is Mikey still in CHAOS?), both stablemates showed each other respect with a fist bump.
However, the heelish Nicholls would quickly become grumpy about the strong crowd reactions for Robbie and the match picks up. There was a crazy spot where Nicholls counters a Tope Con Hilo into a Death Valley Driver into the barricade. Mikey would ground him for a bit, but Robbie wouldn’t stay down for long.
It was a tough contest with both guys pulling out all the stops. Robbie got the visual tapout on Mikey but the referee was distracted by Nicholls’ manager Amber. A sneaky roll-up would get the win for Nicholls by the skin of his teeth. Excellent match. Nicholls’ Australia work is way better than his New Japan. He feels like the great ‘final boss’ as the EPW championship with his toughness and top guy presence. Whoever beats him for the title will feel important. Robbie is fantastic as he usually is. ****
Kevin: I think I speak for Scorp as well when I call this an excellent show that is well worth going out of your way to see (and it’s available for free at the link up top). The long wait time for EPW shows to go up on VOD this year has been frustrating. I have never been someone who thinks that going live is all that important for indy wrestling (the whole UK boom basically happened without any of the major promotions running a single live-streamed show), but the month-long wait between shows happening and the VOD release makes it really hard to generate attention online. And this is a show that definitely deserves that attention. By comparison, in Melbourne, both MCW and Deathmatch Downunder have announced their premiere dates in advance and delivered as promised. As strong as the shows are in-ring; EPW is going to struggle to break through to the international market newly interested in Australian Wrestling if there keeps being such a delay in getting tape out.