Now We Conquer Live!
December 3, 2021
Factory Theatre, Enmore
Sydney, New South Wales Australia
Welcome to Australia. What was once the next big thing on the independent wrestling scene has… well, it’s gone a little bit cold, I’m not gonna lie. We got the COV, we didn’t have the vaccines and we’ve basically done sweet fuck all for the last six months except watch our favourite son, Robbie Eagles, collect titles in front of clap crows on our TVs in NJPW.
But now it is time, friends, for us to emerge from our slumber – ten pounds heavier yet hungrier than ever for some live pro wrestling! And what a way to kick things off with PWA’s Now We Conquer LIVE! a big warm-in to what should be a pretty decent summer of events as promoters look to make up for lost time and milk the punters dry put on some outstanding and exciting events for their loyal fans!
A few small academy and spot shows notwithstanding, PWA – Now We Conquer LIVE! (exclamation mark, capital letters and all) is our first opportunity to sink some tins and watch some of Australia’s most established and up-and-coming workers get back into the squared circle.
I’m not expecting many of you to be that familiar with PWA and the Australian wrestling scene, so I will also be aiming to provide a little background on some of the talent and angles as we go. I’ll also put a few of these wrestlers in context of where you may have seen them and how they fit into the overall Australian ecosystem.
A Little Background
PWA is the largest and easily best-reputed promotion in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney. It is directly linked with a very buoyant academy spearheaded and ostensibly run by women’s wrestling legend Madison Eagles, along with her kayfabe brother-in-law, and current IWGP Junior Tag-Champ, Robbie Eagles. PWA launched into the consciousness of most international fans through Will Osprey’s series of matches against Eagles (often erroneously attributed as being part of MCW) and has continued to build an intensely loyal fanbase and reputation as one of the highest quality products in Australian wrestling from both an in-ring and production standpoint.
A Little Context
This is the first major show back since a COVID-related hiatus and there has been an exodus of sorts at the top of the card. The show prior to lockdown features the 4.75 Meltzer rated classic, Aussie Open vs The Velocities and AO are now back overseas galivanting around with the United Empire and seemingly no return planned in the immediate or short term. Local favorites Grayson Waller (FKA Matty Wahlberg) and Persia Pirotta (FKA Steph de Lander) have moved on to Rainbow Raw and the aforementioned, Robbie Eagles is still in Japan (although rarely pushed locally as more than attraction due to international commitments).
The show is also the first of a planned MCW (Melbourne City Wrestling) vs PWA crossover shows, which will continue over the course of December 2021 culminating on December 19 in Melbourne. This is actually quite a big deal, as interstate travel has been essentially banned for months due to the pandemic, so the prospect of seeing talent from other promotions is a big draw for a lot of us.
This show is a decent little entry point for anyone inclined to jump into the antipodean scene.
As a wise man once said, GET INTO IT.
On With the Show
Ricky South def. Carter Deems
Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive” hits for Ricky South, the PWA champion. I have been rewatching some Adrian Street matches recently thanks to the WON HOF vote and South is certainly one who owes a great debt to Street’s innovative combination of ‘flamboyant’ gimmick with a hard-hitting, ground-bound style – he’s a huge babyface in Sydney, which is one of the world’s most LGBTQI friendly cities.
Deems as his opponent makes sense as a placeholder and he emerges in full heel mode, dark hair and yapping at the crowd. A veteran of the ‘Fale Dojo’ system, Deems has a huge amount of potential but to date has been hampered by injury and somewhat overshadowed by the success of his former tag-partner NXT’s Grayson Waller (who was the biggest face in PWA prior to his departure), so it is nice to see him given this spotlight.
After some initial jawing, they lock up and proceed to have a nice hard-hitting match in which South gives a lot to his challenger. South starts with some stiff-looking lariats in a strike exchange before Deems eventually gains the upper hand and punctuates it with an athletic Tope con Giro to the outside. After a little more back and forth, South hits his ‘Flamboyant Pile Driver’ finish, only for Deems to roll to the outside.
From here it looked like an upset might be on the cards as a back-and-forth on the apron sees Deems hit a nasty-looking package piledriver on the outside. A frogsplash with a lot of airtime and a pop-up piledriver gets a near-fall and Ricky is now reeling. The two start another stiff strike exchange before the champion surprises with a nice-looking crucifix clutch and a flash pin. Deems impresses with some decent character work and nice athleticism and loses nothing in the loss. ***1/2
Post-match, Unsocial Jordan and SMS come to the ring to aim to recruit Ricky South back into their cult-like, right-to-censor style stable. The cloying appeal and ‘lets just be friends’ vibe is so suss, it’s great and SMS always get great heat. The highlight of this segment was a very drunk man behind me screaming “Slap his fucken skivvy off, Rick”. It feels great to be back! Get me another beer!
“Big Brother” Billy Preston def. Big Fudge & Jimmy Townsend & Rhys Angel
One criticism that you can level at PWA is a tendency to go “Full Chikara”, especially in their undercard matches. It is not for everyone and often not for me, but I enjoyed this match especially the work of former partners Jimmy Preston and Jimmy Townsend as they continue to evolve as in-ring talents.
Starting with a video package relaunching Billy Preston (he’s now a Blues Clues style children’s TV host) he emerges in his new gear with a group of dancing animals and kids entertainers, sending up popular Australian TV series The Wiggles. The other wrestlers in this match are all over the top style characters as well, with Rhys Angel, in particular, working some sort of Miami Vice style vibe instead of his usual ‘generic athletic wrestler’ gimmick which will hopefully see him crack out of the mid-card.
This was a spotty comedy match, where everyone got their shit in. The live crowd adore Big Fudge and his shenanigans which are good in small doses in multi-mans like this.
The match had a pretty interesting finish as Preston and Jimmy Townsend faced off with Preston getting the pin with a very nice-looking finish which I can only describe as a fame-asser into a twisting neck-breaker combo. **1/2
(But 4 Quackenbushes out of 5)
Historical Note: Preston and Townsend were longtime partners of a plucky tag-team “The Prefects” where they took advantage of their young looks to play high schoolers as an undercard, comedy tag-team. They were incessant with online videos and got themselves over very effectively. Their break-up culminated in a pretty amusing parody of the Undertaker vs AJ Styles Boneyard Match, filmed during the first COVID lockdown.
The Bad Bitch Nation (Kingsley and Jack Bonza) def. SMS (Aaron Jake and Belinda Pierce)
Another gimmick-heavy match as Bonza and Kingsley (a giant hard-hitting man and his tiny loud mouthed protégé) continue to comedically explore the consequences of her renaming the faction. There is a sincerity and strange sweetness about their relationship and the odd couple / big brother x little sister vibes are great fodder for comedy. Kingsley’s top-tier charisma and Bonza’s enduring popularity as a PWA mainstay has this pair over as rover in the building.
Not a long or particularly physically impressive match but a couple of notes. Aaron Jake is a big upside guy and has tonnes of athletic potential. PWA has a habit of putting people they rate as future stars under Unsocial Jordan’s wing, and his track record is superlative with Kyle Fletcher and Persia Pirotta two examples of youngsters getting huge after a Jordan apprenticeship. The interactions between him and Bonza (another Fale affiliate and NJPW Down Under Alumnus) were the wrestling highlights of an otherwise OK little match in the undercard.
Kingsley and Bonza’s tandem finisher, the Code-Red Nation (a codebreaker into a code red) is legitimately excellent and always gets a few oohs from the uninitiated. **1/2
Shazza McKenzie def. Cherry Stephens
The Shimmer veteran Shazza takes on the reasonably new to the industry Cherry Stephens. Cherry is a fan favorite and does some excellent character work as a plucky, indefatigably positive youngster.
McKenzie working heel is a positive change for her and she leaned into the boos while giving the babyface a little bit of a rally before putting her away. The match was a little slow, and perhaps suffered from its spot on the card as the crowd drifted away at times. Cherry hit a nice swinging DDT from the outside, before McKenzie established control and got the win with the Shaztastic Stunner. An ok match and a nice singles match for Cherry on the maincard. **
Team MCW (Mitch Waterman, Slex and TBC def. The Velocities (Paris De Silva, Jude London and Mat Diamond)
The last before intermission and certainly my match of the night. This match is the forerunner to the broader inter-promotional card taking place in Melbourne on December 17th.
The heels receive a pretty lukewarm reaction and not a huge amount of heat on their entrance. Even the returning SLEX (comma) The Business doesn’t get the response as I would have expected for someone who hasn’t been in the country for some time (but this crowd seemed more PWA fans than general wrestling fans). The vibe changes very quickly, however, when former PWA Champion, Caveman Ugg emerges as the third man in Team MCW, sending the crowd into throes of vitriol as they remember his long-running reign which culminated in a heel turn and excellent title switch against Ricky South earlier in the year.
The size difference at first seems almost comically profound, but The Velocities are so quick and their offense looks so crisp that they quickly enable you to suspend disbelief – even when they are up against a team twice their size in settings such as these.
Paris da Silva and Slex start the match with an exchange culminating in a backbreaker countered into a ‘rana from Paris. This match feels like it is being worked at a 1.5 speed compared to the predecessors and the overall gulf in class between these guys and the immediately previous matches is apparent.
The Velocities get some nice three-way offense in, with a drop-toehold shotgun dropkick combo punctuated with a standing shooting star press from the very underrated Mat Diamond. After more back and forth, the size and power difference becomes overwhelming, as Caveman Ugg establishes dominance and milks the boos with some dastardly dominance of Diamond – a particularly vicious ripcord lariat got the crowd going. This marks an extended heat segment from Team MCW as they dominate Diamond who eventually gets a tag and unleashes a flurry of flips and dives from The Velocities highlighted by a Tope Suicida from Paris and a handspring cutter from Jude.
The finish of this one was brutal. Jude London leaps off the top rope before being caught mid-air by Caveman Ugg and spiked in a sit-out tombstone which looked fucken sick. I only wish this match went longer and had bigger build – but consider my appetite whetted for the MCW x PWA show on December 17! ****1/4
A quick note on The Velocities. These guys have been building a reputation globally in recent years thanks to some very strong outings in the UK as well as a recent classic with Aussie Open in PWA. Sadly like many talents, COVID clearly put the brakes on what otherwise would likely have been a big year for them – these guys would do amazing things in NJPW Strong and would straight up crush a Junior Tag League given the chance.
Number One Contenders Match
Jessica Troy and Unsocial Jordan def. Lyrebird Luchi and Matt Rogers
This was definitely a casualty of a stilted build and the prolonged lockdown. A reasonably short match without much story but setting up some longer-term angles down the line. Luchi and Jordan are reviled as heels but no one really seems to know what to do with Matt Rogers, who is a stoic, giant tattooed man who looks every part the early thousands wrestler and American Badass cosplayer.
The star of the match was undoubtedly Jessica Troy – while diminutive in size, her striking and speed make her every bit the credible threat in the ring with men and women of any size. I am somewhat staggered that she hasn’t been snapped up by someone internationally. She has her Fujiwara Arm Bar finisher over to the point that anytime she grabs a limb, the crowd starts humming.
The highlights of the match were the interactions between Jess and Jordan, including a top-rope rana and a stiff looking release half and half-suplex from Jordan. The match finished with a shmozzy double tap out, with Jess and Jordan both having holds locked onto Luchi as he tapped out, setting up an angle down the track.
This was ok but suffered from a case of more-is-less. **1/4
MK Plus Ultra def. Juan Direction
The Chikara tendencies strike again as this palate cleanser before the main event leans into comedy with mixed results. Juan Direction is a luchador parody of boyband One Direction and has been absent for some time. They have been fan favorites in the past but seemed to prompt some puzzlement from the crowd who seemed to consist of quite a few newcomers on this particular night. MK Plus Ultra had a cracker with The Velocities a few shows ago and can really go, so check that out if you want a better indicator of their talents. *1/2
(But 3 Quackenbushes / 5)
Soul of PWA Championship
Mick Moretti def. Sam Osbourne
This match was very angle and story-heavy at the start, which made sense as the evening progressed. A video package plays recapping Sam Osbourne’s rise under Don Marnell (OTT Fans might remember him on commentary) culminating in him winning the PWWA (yep, the women’s title. PWA is completely intergender) from Jess Troy at the last show. While I normally find the cheating ref angles cheap and boring, it was a legitimate shock at the last show and got some great heat. Osbourne plays the handsome, rich, smug heel perfectly and has power and precision in the ring which has helped him build an excellent reputation as an emerging start in the Sydney scene over the last 18 months.
Proceedings open with Marnell unveiling the newly branded Soul of PWA title (it looks pretty decent). The challenger Moretti then enters to a decent pop, but a quick build and not much background between these two didn’t help his reaction. PWG fans might know Mick Moretti who is a homegrown talent and excellent athlete in ring (YMMV on his character work). Here, he has evolved the maniac clown gimmick to the point that he looks like a swole, disheveled joker. I’m not sure if I hate it or love it.
The match starts slowly. The two feel each other out with some grappling and Osbourne’s cronies play to the boos with outside interference and shithousery, building sympathy for the tweener Moretti (decidedly working babyface here and getting better reactions as the match continues). It’s slow, methodical (and somewhat boring to be honest) with Mick’s knee being worked over in various fashions by all members of the Marnell Management Agency. I’m about to give up on things when the match explodes at about the half-way point with Moretti scaling the lighting rig and hitting Osbourne with a very neat crossbody. Moretti shows off his athleticism, Osbourne looking excellent as the heel foil, selling and basing exceptionally as Mick dials up the offense and bringing the crowd with him.
The extended closing stretch starts with Moretti hitting a springboard senton into an outrageous Swanton off the top rope. Here the heel referee plays the same notes as the previous match, failing to count three and feigning an injured hand before getting beaten down by Moretti who calls to the back for the popular Referee Nick who emerges for the count. 1, 2… Marnell pulls Moretti out of the ring.
The cheap heat has worked and the crowd is buying this bullshit hard. The heels beat Moretti a bit more down before Jessica Troy emerges to the pop of the night with a chair to make the save for stablemate Moretti. Mick goes up the top for an avalanche Sweaty Moretti (a five-knuckle shuffle where he shoves his hands down his pants first, nice) for the pin!
New Champ! ***3/4
The show closes with Moretti and Four Nations posing triumphantly in the ring. After the show goes dark, it becomes clear that Osbourne is ‘moving on to future endeavors’ which explains the very quick title switch and hot-shotted feud which would have been much better with a little more time.
All-in-all a decent if a little disjointed show which feels like a reset and a rebase for a promotion that needs to establish its identity. Hopefully, the January 14 show billing the return of Robbie Eagles will build on some of this momentum and on the ascending trajectory!
Please come back for some more PWA and Australian Wrestling. I hope to hit you guys up with some more reviews and commentary moving forward.