PWA Black Label
Welcome to the Black Label Parade
January 14, 2022
Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia
Hello everyone and welcome back down-under! The local scene down has well and truly fired up over the last couple of months, thanks to lifting lockdown restrictions and several of the big indie feds including MCW, EPW and of course, PWA are back in full swing with some high-quality cards with decent crowds despite old mate omicron doing a number on the rest of our festive season!
Tonight we have a rematch of what was easily Australia’s 2021 Match of the Year and one of the world’s very best tag matches, Aussie Open vs The Velocities!
For those unaccustomed with the first match, I would strongly urge you to check it out on YouTube.
One of the bright spots in the pandemic for Australian wrestling fans was Aussie Opens’ run of matches in PWA – which thanks to restrictions in the UK, brought the guys home for a sustained run of four exceptional with this the very best. It ranked very highly on my VOW MOTY poll and even with parochial nationalism aside, I think it stands alongside the world’s finest in a year where quality matches in front of crowds were hard to come by.
Since the match, Aussie Opens’ stars have continued to rise and rise – defending these titles in Rev Pro, winning the Rev Pro tag titles and then being inducted into United Empire by Ospreay, which would likely have led to a nice run in World Tag League had border closures not betrayed them.
Spoiler Free Recommendations
- Adam Brooks vs Ricky South
- Robbie Eagles vs Mick Moretti
- The Velocities vs Aussie Open
Onto the Matches!
MCW Champion Adam Brooks def. PWA Champion Ricky South
The show opens with a nice one – a rematch of the main event from the recent MCW vs. PWA interpromotional card which took place in December. Brooks comes to a mixture of boos and hush while South gets his customary big hometown pop from the faithful locals.
The former ROH signee and PWG veteran Brooks jumps the bell with a John Woo Dropkick and briefly gains dominance, punctuating the sequence with a standing moonsault from the outside to the floor! South returns fire with some trademark ‘flamboyant aggression’, his hard hitting style influenced heavily by 90s AJPW contrasting profoundly with his LGBTQI gimmick.
The two beat each other up nicely for several minutes, Brooks abusing the local crowd as the interloper from interstate and beating the champ down. Some great action here from both men – South with a beautiful combination involving some lariats and an urinage and Brooks reaching deep into his bag with a spectacular springboard Spanish fly as South sits on the turnbuckles.
After more back and forth and Brooks bringing in a foreign object, South hits his powerbomb finisher before resident shitbag heel Carter Deems randomly interferes and pulls the referee out of the ring. With the distraction, Brooks takes advantage with a swanton and the pin, getting his win back from the previous show and ensuring both men look very strong in what was an excellent opening match. ****
Will Kiedis def. Tommy Dee
Will Kiedis comes to the ring with intern Cherry Stephens in toe – the classic dynamic of the beloved sidekick and the despised main act paying dividends here with Kiedis a hateable heel and Cherry a charismatic and beloved presence on the PWA roster. An interesting space here for Kiedis with Sam Osborne and Don Marnell’s departure from PWA allowing him to step up into a featured spot rather than being a tertiary figure in the stable. Kiedis fills the air prior to giving Cherry a Xmas present – a referee’s outfit – indicating she won’t make it as a wrestler and offers her a role as his personal referee.
Kiedis says there will be a match right now – and trainee (named Green Dingoes in PWA) Tommy Dee comes out for an impromptu. Tommy Dee rolls Kiedis up for a surprise pin with a crucifix and Cherry doesn’t count! Kiedis gains the upper hand and works over the youngster with a Pulp Friction and a shining wizard… Cherry painfully counts the three for her boss.
A little filler match after the intense opener. We didn’t see much of Dee but Kiedis is a reliable mid-card heel and the potential to showcase Cherry’s charisma in this story should be a lot of fun for this duo. **
Caveman Ugg def. Kai Drake & Jimmy Townsend
Some beefy boys in this match with the hard-hitting Drake, superlative Ugg and the promising Jimmy Townsend. Ugg is a staggering athlete and shows off in the early parts of the match with a beautiful senton after launching Preston onto Drake via a Gorilla Press. Jimmy plays some of the old comedy spots before showing an improved fluidity in the ring, looking every bit the part with some more experienced athletes – a beautiful spinning DDT punctuating a nice rally from the youngster being cut off by Ugg with a kick to the chest and a razor’s edge. Drake almost scores a fall on Ugg with a Michinoku Driver. Some decent action back and forth between the three before Ugg wins with the same brutal-looking sit-out tombstone which he showcased at the previous show to score the win.
This is the exact type of match I would like to see more of in PWA and I personally find this stuff infinitely more exciting and better for the development of the wrestlers than the more skit-based, comedy stuff which often proliferates in this fed. ***1/4
Number One Contender Match
Jessica Troy vs. Unsocial Jordan
Troy comes out to a huge pop as per usual in this championship opportunity. After my praises in the last show, she strangely became the center of a gif-based Twitter exchange with QT Marshall and some random eggs online. Hopefully, he actually watched some of her matches because she is easily the highest upside wrestler in the country at this point. Once again, I am asking you to sign this woman!
Jordan’s music hits and out come stablemates Belle Pierce and Aaron Jake. Jordan is a COVID contact and cannot wrestle – so Jess Troy challenges both SMS members to a handicap match.
Jessica Troy def. SMS
SMS beat Troy down and go for a magic killer which Troy reverses into a nice brainbuster on Aaron Jake.
Jake shows off his athleticism with a lush missile dropkick and gains a minor bit of upper hand before Troy hits an amazing rana and somehow manages to finagle both opponents into a Fujiwara Armbar and tapping both out at once.
A very short match that seems like it was put together in a pinch. It put Troy over even more (as if she needed it) and hypes the contender match which will presumably happen when Unsocial Jordan doesn’t have COVID. **
Soul of PWA Championship
Mick Moretti (C) def. Robbie Eagles
Eagles’ music hits and the place goes nuts – the favorite son returning to his home promotion after nearly a year away from the PWA ring. He is strapped up with the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Tag Belt on the shoulder – a nice insurance policy to ensure he gets back for a defense to Japan even if the borders close (and I respect that grift, Rob). Jokes aside, watching Eagles thrive in Japan has been a huge thrill for a lot on the Australian scene – the guy is a credit to the industry and (often alongside Moretti, Madison Eagles and others) has coached and reared half of the guys and girls doing work internationally. An ambassador for the region, through and through and one who I wish continued success upon.
Frantic start with the two long-time rivals and shoot colleagues going at each other – counters galore, as they play up their familiarity and decade-long rivalry. They mirror each other’s offense both struggling to get the upper hand before Moretti gets the minor edge with a near fall after a cross body off the top rope.
Moretti continues with an outrageous springboard senton off the top rope to the floor, collecting Robbie perfectly as the two start to brawl on the floor. Eagles reverses a powerbomb attempt into a rana as the two continue to brawl on the outside – Robbie chopping Moretti against the light rig before drilling the Rapscallion with a double-knees setting up a beautiful tope suicida. This has been beautifully structured and Eagles shows his brilliance leading a match and telling a sustained story (this time without working a limb as is his usual MO) with one of the best hands and compelling athletes on the Australian indie scene.
Back in the ring, Eagles misses a 450 which allows Moretti to get back on level pegging. Eagles now finally starts to work the leg, with the missile dropkick and another 450 which Moretti manages to counter, all while doing a bit of damage.
Moretti is up first and moves to the outside and starts to crank the turnbuckles with a spanner – loosening the top rope to the point that it’s impossible to climb. Genuine innovation and a spot I have not seen before which neutralizes a lot of Eagles’ set-ups. Excellent psychology and Eagles sells the confusion throughout the remainder of the match.
More back and forth before Eagles slaps the Ron Miller onto Moretti who gets to the ropes – while these two men have faced innumerable times previously, the Ron Miller Special is a tool which Eagles has innovated in the last couple of years and has yet to unleash in matches together. Eagles tests the top rope, but thinks better due to the loose buckles, hitting an insane-looking 450 off the second rope to Moretti’s leg.
Another face-off and the men trade slaps, forearms and chops, superkicks and headbutts before both hitting the deck. This proves to be the last main exchange of the match before a schmoozy finish involving Moretti introducing a foreign object, fooling the referee and rolling Eagles up with a schoolboy for the pin.
A great match with an unbecoming ending which protected everyone. I would love to see this one run back again in the near future with more time and a definitive finish but jeez it’s great to see Eagles back in Sydney. Moretti likewise crushed it again; whenever he has an above-average dance partner he shines. Here’s hoping he is able to get back to the US or Japan for a sustained run as COVID denied some promising outings in PWG and undercards during NJPW’s Australian tours. ****1/4
Four-Way Tag Match
The Bad Bitch Nation (Jack Bonza & Kingsley) defeat Back Pain (Backman & Jack Pain) and Ben Braxton & Carter Deams and Juan Direction (Giant Juan & Romantic Juan)
A surprise-ish appearance from Colt Cabana (he did a live podcast before the show so breadcrumbs were the size of loaves for him to make an appearance) but it was great to see him get out there with the Juan D boys (for the uninitiated, Juan Direction is a lucha-libre boy band which the biggest Chikara Fever Dream would do well to manifest).
Bang, boom, movez. How the fuck do you even review a four-way tag match featuring a four-team tornado match which now randomly features Colt Cabana on the outside? Backpain are consistently fun as a team and their over-the-top gym bro vibes have helped these guys find a decent spot as a lower mid-card team with room to grow. To my knowledge, this is Ben Braxton’s first appearance on the main show for PWA and he showed nice athleticism in a few spots. I would like to see him back in singles action or on an extended run with Deems as a tag team.
The match concludes as Jack Bonza rolls up Carter Deems. A Braxton and Deems feud with the Nation would be a nice spot for everyone to end up but I’m very keen to see a bit more in-ring stuff from Deems, who is getting a bit grating as an interference-heavy heel. **1/2
Billy Preston def. Donnie Mako
Clearly, some more comedic filler to chill everyone out before the main event but I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to think. This match starts in a super weird way as Donnie Mako (now reinvented as a druggy stoner) comes to the ring with a joint and is then followed by Billy Preston (who recently reinvented as a kids TV presenter). The match is centered on Preston trying to convince Mako to stop doing drugs. Mako moves from the joint, to a bong, to a hash brownie as the two exchange perfunctory offense and mug to the crowd.
Total comedy stuff which is not to my taste and I think both of these guys can actually go pretty well without the gaga. The match moves to a finish as Preston and Mako fight over a bag of talcum powder which they pretend is cocaine – firing Preston up it spills all over him. He finishes the match covered in white powder. ** (but 4/5 Quakenbushes)
Lyrebird Luchi def. Fake Matt Rogers
The entire ring is covered in talcum powder. FML. So far I have been a bit too sports entertained over the last few matches and just want a squash or 3 star special with young talent. Luchi reads a poem, fights a young boy dressed as Matt Rogers and then Matt Rogers challenges him to a match in steel cage.
This feud is boring and I am hoping they can prove me wrong at the next show with a decent payoff match. NR
PWA Tag Team Championships vs. Career
The Velocities (Jude London and Paris DaSilva def. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis) (c)
Here we go… a big hype promo for the main event recapping their stellar showdown from 2021! This feels like every inch the big event and there is a palpable buzz in the building as we return to the ring.
The added stakes to the match – if Aussie Open win, the Velocities must break up!
Side observation for the body guys, Mark Davis is in the best shape of his life and Fletcher continues to look sensational – get these lads to Japan ASAP so they can posedown with Honma and Tanahashi at the pool.
Note: They are still cleaning fake cocaine off the ring.
Aussie Open jump the bell and immediately start pummeling The Velocities and working over Jude London. After some brief heat, DaSilva gets a hot tag and The Velocities rip into some trademark tandem offense. They go for twin tope suicidas and are simultaneously caught mid-air by AO and slammed into one another, a call back to a memorable spot from their first match in the series. Aussie Open are very much playing the cynical professionals to The Velocities’ plucky underdogs – this dynamic seems to be even more pronounced than previously as the decorated champs rather than challengers themselves.
Fletcher works over Da Silva before the Velocities manage to get some more tandem work in. A nice Code Red from London before a brutal spot where Mark Davis catches him off the top rope and spins him from a fireman’s carry into a top rope cutter from Fletcher!
The pace is picking up. London strikes Davis with machine gun chops before getting absolutely flawed by a brutal chop Davis – Aussie Open are firmly in control and working Jude London over hard. Davis throws him to the outside and Fletcher hits a loose-looking stalled fisherman buster on the outside.
Paris finally tags in and hits some nice moves before getting cut off by another nasty power move from Davis – this time a lariat. Davis hits rolling deadlift Germans. It looks like it is Paris’ turn to get his ass kicked by Aussie Open – they are taking almost too much of this match and it feels exceptionally one-sided.
A fightback from Paris now with a beautiful crucifix bomb before going up top for a shooting star press – knees up from Davis. Both men are out in the ring as Fletcher and London beg for tags and get brought in. They exchange forearms but again Aussie Open show the power and win all of these exchanges. The Velocities are clearly wanting to duke it out with AO and are getting handled whenever they try to trade.
Fletcher and London in the ring have particularly excellent chemistry, and I believe they were trainees together at the PWA Academy. Rolling powerbombs, Spanish fly, and a nasty-looking reverse rana gets a near-fall for The Velocities. Another cool spot with DaSilva locking in a guillotine on Fletcher while Davis chops him, DaSilva holding on for dear life. The match is building into a suitable sequel for their classic.
After some more violence, Paris appears unconscious in the ring – another call back to the legit concussion he suffered at the end of the previous match. The ring crew and refs sell this nicely and Aussie Open get great heat by disrupting the injury and then turn to London for more heat.
London fights back and counters Aussie Open’s finish into a destroyer! He moves to the top rope, while getting chopped by Davis. DaSilva continues to sell while Aussie Open aims for an avalanche version of their finisher. Jude somehow counters into a double frankensteiner before eating the AO finish… and here comes Paris to break up the count at 2.9!
We are living up the hype folks, holy hell this match is sensational! The crowd is rising and the match now feels on a knife-edge.
Paris hits a perfect shooting star DDT on Fletcher – a super finisher (which was ironically given to him by United Empire leader Will Ospreay in a seminar several years ago) – but Davis pulls the referee out of the ring while counting!
Aussie Open start to lose it with the referee holding them to account and now powerbomb the referee, looking for a DQ to get out of the match with the champion’s advantage in effect. But there is no bell and the match continues. Some belt shots, some low blows… but still no referee to count. Here comes a new referee but it’s a 2.9!
All men are dead on their feet now and this leads to the only sloppy spot of the match as we enter the finish. Fletcher slips while trying to lift London but Davis covers well and the sequence actually helps sell the exhaustion and the toll taken through the 30 minutes plus they’ve been in the ring. The Velocities scramble and hoist Fletcher up to the top and rip a brand-new tandem finisher – a top rope powerbomb with a sling blade! One, Two, Three!
An outstanding match and a worthy successor to their MOTY candidate from 2021; we can only hope for a trilogy. One element which made the first match such a thrill was the genuinely unpredictable outcome and while this result felt like a lock with Aussie Open heading back overseas, it was nonetheless a match you must go out of your way to see and will be in the mix for tag-team match of the year once again. *****
If you’re unfamiliar with PWA and want to learn a little more, I recommend checking out my previous review which outlines a bit more context on the wrestlers and the company in a bit more detail.