RENEGADES OF WRESTLING
RETURN OF THE RENEGADES
MARCH 17, 2023
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
On Friday, March 17, Renegades of Wrestling ran for the first time since September. I attended the first Renegades show in person, and have sadly been unable to attend since. For the uninitiated, Renegades is the product of promoter Mikey Jay and booker Criss Fresh, who previously controlled Melbourne City Wrestling during their best period. Criss left first in 2019, and then in 2020, Mikey sold the promotion to Rohan Herbstreit. Rohan had previously been a manager in MCW and used to run the website WWFDownUnder.com. In addition to running MCW, he currently works as a PR consultant for the WWE.
Renegades launched in 2022 after much hype on social media and podcast interviews. They ran four shows in 2022, of varying quality. Let’s see where they are at almost a year in!
The show opens with a shot of Renegades World Champion Rat Daddy drinking a beer from a throne made out of beer, the best image. We then cut to the usual excellent intro video of Mikey Jay promotions. Julian James, Andy Coyne & Lindsay Howarth introduce us, and we head to the ring.
The RETURN OF THE RENEGADES premieres this Friday Night at 8pm on @FiteTV!
— Renegades of Wrestling (@ROWrestlingAU) March 29, 2023
JARVIS(W/ AYSHA, EMMAN AZMAN & MURDOCH) DEF. SANTIAGO SILVA
Our first match was a fine little opener. Jarvis is a member of a stable called The Ambush, featuring Aysha, Emman Azman and Murdoch (more on their origins later). They all had matches on this show, other than Murdoch, who seemed more than content being involved in everyone else’s. One thing you’ll notice from Renegades is their top-notch video production, which makes the shows look great. Sadly, this show’s sound (especially in this match) was not the best, with commentary overpowering all other sounds. Jarvis is wrestling with Santiago Silver, a newcomer to Renegades who recently completed wrestling training at the Relentless School, which is run by JXT, FOX (aka Fun Time Phil) and Jake Navara.
This match has a simple, idiot-proofed story. Given the relative inexperience of Santiago, that is perfectly reasonable. Jarvis spent most of the match being a dickhead heel, battling the young fiery babyface. Despite his experience level, Santiago showed great fire in the match and definitely could become something more once he gets some experience under his belt & puts it together. Santiago hit some beautiful crossbodies and a dive to the floor. Eventually, Murdoch strikes him, giving Jarvis the opportunity for a springboard cutter for two. Santiago works his way back into control, hitting a springboard of his own for two. The commentary put over the referees specific counting cadence as something the wrestlers will need to account for. Interesting storytelling device that makes it feel more like a sport. After multiple thwarted cheating attempts, Jarvis manages to pick up the victory with a big, spinning kick.
Overall, a perfectly cromulent match. It did get a bit clunky and awkward in parts, which wasn’t hidden well by the very close camera shots. Either way, an acceptable start to the show. **¾
PUNCHDRUNK ISTRIA VS. JAKE ANDREWARTHA
Before this match, Andy says this match will be “between two real fighters.” Shouldn’t wrestling (at least in kayfabe) be real? I know what he meant, but surely you can word that better? Punchdrunk Istria has been wrestling since 2007, across Australia and the world, with stints in NOAH, Zero1 and WXW. He wrestled Jake Andrewartha, who started pro wrestling in 2016 at 26. He is a Commonwealth Games medalist in judo and even competed in the 2012 Olympics. In the realm of pro wrestling, he was kept undefeated until earlier this year at an MCW show, against DELTA. In Renegades, he leads a stable of shooter and shooter-adjacent wrestlers called Dominion of Violence.
This match perfectly played to each man’s strengths. A full-blown dickhead sprint. A match after my heart. It started with Andrewartha getting pelted with massive strikes, before getting in a massive judo throw on Istria. This match really shows how much better Istria’s strikes are than most in wrestling in 2023. Andrewartha hit a beautiful leg lariat for two. There were some great crossfaces, and a half nelson suplex on Andrewartha. Beyond throwing very snug bombs all match, the secondary story was Istria focusing on Andrewartha’s arm, and trying for multiple cross armbreakers. Andrewartha tried for his Game Over Powerbomb, but got countered into a very mean cross armbreaker. Eventually, he got back in control and hit the Game Over Powerbomb for 3. Post-match he attacked Istria’s arm in revenge.
What a match! A perfect mean guy, small venue match. These two wrestled in a way that every single person in Max Watts could buy into what they were selling. A very fun sprint that I can’t help but rate high. Will I watch this later and question my rating? Possibly. When I watched it though I was in the perfect mindset for this kind of match to blow me away. ****
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE
DELTA DEF. CHANEL PHOENIX (W/ HECTOR JONES)
This match sees two of the Australian scene’s rising women’s wrestlers take each other on. This match was booked after these two wrestled to a double count-ou during their title tournament match at Rebellion in July. DELTA is two years into her career, already very good and has plenty of star potential to mold. Chanel Phoenix is a member of Jake Andrewartha’s Dominion of Violence group. In an interesting note, this match sees someone with partial training from Wrestle Rampage (Phoenix) take on a Riot City Wrestling trainee (DELTA). For those who don’t know, those two promotions are key promotions in South Australia, with both existing in some form since the 2000s.
The match opens with an early exchange of mean-looking moves that work well with the close-up camera shots. Phoenix gets handed a kendo by fellow DOV member Hector Jones, while DELTA gets a chair from the crowd. After some dueling, DELTA gets put into an armbar in the ropes which she escapes in the coolest way possible, tossing a chair violently into Phoenix.
Now that's how you get out of an armbar!
— Josh R. Haitch (@RealDealJRH) April 6, 2023
There was some real nasty striking on the floor and some walk and brawl. Phoenix hits a sidewalk slam on a seated chair for two. Eventually, they made their way back to the ring, with a great superplex for two by Phoenix. Phoenix locked DELTA in a choke while Hector Jones set up a door in the corner for her to use. Phoenix eventually tried for what was apparently meant to be a Harlem Hangover, landing arse first on the mat (ouch) and getting speared through the door for the DELTA victory.
A very fun plunder match between two capable wrestlers. Not a MOTYC by any stretch, but very enjoyable while it lasted. ***½
We got a Bastard Brothers video. KrackerJak says they beat the Velocities last show. They will face them again to determine the Renegades tag champs on May 21. Gore says the match will be 2/3 Falls. Both explain each fall. First fall will be a regular match, since they’ve beat them before. The second will be a street fight, just so they can stomp the heads of the Velocities’ into the pavement. If they survive, the final will be a Bed of Nails, to send them crying back to Sydney. KrackerJak threatens to throw the street fight so that they can throw them onto the bed of nails. Good promo, obviously.
ROW CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONTENDERS MATCH
CAVEMAN UGG DEF. ANTH CAVA AND HECTOR JONES
Caveman Ugg surely needs no introduction. A veteran of the scene, most known locally for his work in PWA and his PWG appearances. Maybe you know him as a member of the BULLET CLUB’s Rogue Army (blegh). Anth Cava is an MCW Academy graduate who has been wrestling for a little over three years and is just branching out. He definitely looks the part. Hector Jones is another DOV member, who managed Chanel Phoenix last match.
This match was a perfectly fun three-way match. Things kicked off with Ugg beating the piss out of both his opponents. Commentary put over that Cava & Jones started training together and came up with the team name Upper Body Business. Upper Body Business is a phenomenal name, and they should actually use it. The name that screams touring, booked everywhere tag team. Eventually, the duo gets some offense in on Ugg, eventually sending him to the floor to fight each other. Ugg came back in with a nasty dive after the two double-clotheslined each other. It was a cool spot, somewhat ruined by them waiting too long for the dive. After some more beautiful exchanges between all three, we head into the finishing stretch. Ugg hits a nice double German suplex and mounts a comeback. He is thwarted with a Hart Attack. Both Cava & Jones try to cover each other. Jones hits a shitty-looking headlock driver for two. Ugg hits Tour of the Caves, goes for a pin but gets picked up by Cava. He counters Cava’s fireman’s carry into a Samoan Driver for three.
A fun match to watch, that kind of fell apart a little bit and got messy toward the end. I feel like the traditional 3-way structure hindered the match a bit in some parts, while helped in other parts. I hope to see Cava & Jones team up some day. ***¼
RENEGADES WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
AYSHA DEF. SHAZZA MCKENZIE (C)
Aysha is back in Australia after a stint in the US. During her stay, she trained at Flatbacks (the school run by Tyler Breeze & Shawn Spears) and did a Gabe Sapolsky seminar. She also took dates for places like WWN and Beyond. She is a young talent originally trained by the PCW SLAM! Academy and a member of The Ambush. Shazza McKenzie has been to the US multiple times before, and is pretty well known. This show was one of her last before moving to the US.
The match started with the two exchanging hair pulls. That was pretty funny. The juxtaposition of Shazza’s movement and Ashya’s was too big not to notice. Shazza’s working over Aysha bored me to tears, sadly. Eventually, Murdoch held Shazza’s leg allowing Aysha to go on offense. Aysha hit nice offense, including a beautiful spinning heel kick. Some nice moves exchanged for two counts, including a First Class DDT by Aysha. Say what you will about Shazza’s performance here, she really is good at close kickouts. Shazza then hit a pretty slow STO(?) into an anaconda vice. Aysha tapped while Murdoch distracted the ref. Aysha hit Shazza with a glass bottle, stalled for a few seconds and then got the three.
This match was not good. Nowhere near bad enough for me to say watch it. Nowhere near bad enough to be contend for WMOTY. Just a very nothing match. I am looking forward to seeing what Aysha can do as champion, because she stood out even in this match I didn’t like. Shazza, I hope for her sake the move to the US helps her find that spark that has been missing for a while. I think some people are harsher on her than necessary, but this match was not it! *½
A video played, talking about the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. The video then said that Loverboy was dead, dying on December 12, 2022. They cut to the building where Lochy Hendricks gave the Loverboy gimmick a eulogy. He said he had the people in the palm of his hands, calling them the equivalent of NPCs who need saving. He said Loverboy died so his true self can live… The Aspirationalist Lochy Hendricks. He spoke about mentoring people. He said the last two WrestleRock (Criss Fresh’s other promotion) shows sold out because of him being champ. He said he once main evented for “this deathmatch company” (referring to Deathmatch Downunder) they drew their biggest house. Another in a long line of people shooting on other promotions in the Melbourne scene (DMDU specifically) on shows of late. There’s a 10-bell salute as we fade to black. A very well-delivered promo. Not sure how I feel about Hendricks’ turn yet, but I trust him to make this enjoyable.
— Josh R. Haitch (@RealDealJRH) April 6, 2023
ROBBIE EAGLES DEF. EMMAN AZMAN
This match has been building since show one. On that show, Emman Azman (then Emman The Kid) lost to The Velocities. Emman finally picked up his first win in Renegades in July at Rebellion. After the match, he formed The Ambush with Murdoch, Jarvis and Aysha, and also took on his new name. The Ambush claim to be (and in my opinion are) the future of Australian wrestling. Emman is back in Australia after a tour in his birth country of Malaysia, which has a strong & growing wrestling scene. Robbie Eagles should need no introduction to readers of this site. His last match in Renegades was a No DQ match with KrackerJak on the same show The Ambush formed on.
The match started with a very fluid, liquid-like exchange of holds. The story of the match is both men taking control and being outwitted by the other’s speed. These two are the perfect match for each other. Robbie eventually throws a massive chop which gets Emman really going. Emman counters a suplex into a beautiful Michinoku driver. After exchanging control for a bit, Robbie locks in a side chancery and then works to attack Emman’s knee, which becomes his goal in the match. Both men still battle with their speed and technique, but the veteran Robbie keeps attacking the leg. Robbie tries for something off the top rope, but misses and eats a stiff kick from Emman who hurts his own knee. A sitout powerbomb into the Ron Miller Special, but Emman makes it to the ropes. Emman eventually wrestles control back, spamming moves for two counts. Robbie starts throwing slaps, Turbo Jetpack attempt gets countered into a poison rana by Emman, who then eats an elbow.
These two men are insane, and refuse to give. They throw everything at each other, from stiff strikes to springboards. They exchange rollups and spam some kicks on each other, but nothing is enough. Emman attempts a move, but gets caught with a Turbo Jetpack for two. Superkick and a 450 splash that directly targets Emman’s knee. A second Ron Miller special, again into the ropes. Robbie gets him out of the ropes, smashes the knee some more and taps him out with the Ron Miller Special. Post match Emman & Jarvis beat down Robbie and steal his bandana.
Words don’t do this justice. It’s really hard to talk about how great this match is without falling into the trap of just doing a move-for-move recap. If there’s any match on this show you need to go out of your way to see, it’s this one! Fantastic all around, and I think they have even better in them. ****¼
SWANSTON STREET FIGHT
RAT DADDY (C) DEF. MATT HAYTER
Your main event saw champion Rat Daddy take on Matt Hayter. Hayter (no relation to Jamie) thinks there is a conspiracy against him after the title tournament Rat Daddy won. Hayter entered as a last-minute replacement for the injured JXT. Hayter is from South Australia, and is a prominent heel in many promotions, who is excellent at getting heat. I’ll never forget how much heat he got for shit-talking Ritchie Taylor at a DMDU show I went to. Rat Daddy is also based in South Australia. He was trained by JONAH and briefly stayed in the US last year, wrestling for Black Label Pro and Limitless Wrestling.
The match was very schtick-heavy. The schtick was good, so I’m not going to shit on it too much, but it didn’t scream “main event title match” to me. Matt Hayter is a great small-room wrestler. They worked some cheese grater spots (because RAT Daddy). Rat Daddy licked it after grating Hayter’s balls… yeah, maybe not. Hayter eventually grabs a bin and hoofs it into Rat Daddy. The schtick calms down for a bit as the men do some fun spots, including a springboard dropkick by Rat Daddy while Hayter has a bin on his head. They share a beer, which Hayter hates the taste of. Hayter uses a rat trap in a box as a weapon (because RAT Daddy). Throughout the match, one person in the crowd keeps chanting “we want tables” in the most unenthusiastic way possible. For people who know what I’m talking about, you’d think it was the raspy-voiced guy in the WWE games who did the solo “this is awesome.” Luckily Hayter is a good enough heel to shut them up.
Rat Daddy eventually gains control and brings out a board of mouse traps. If I was a rat, I wouldn’t risk it! Eventually, he kisses Hayter, sending him into the traps… Sure, I guess. Rat Daddy gets a bag of American cheese singles (because RAT Daddy) and then a jug (yes, a jug) of thumbtacks. Hayter powerbombs him into the cheesy tack pile. Eventually, Hayter finds a table which he sets up. The finish of the match has to be seen to be believed. Hayter got sunset flipped into the table, bounces off head first and gets kicked into the table leg for three.
Yeah, this match was fine. It leaned a bit too much into the Rat Daddy schtick for my liking. Both men are over as fuck normally, but this really didn’t feel like a main event and the crowd felt burnt out. The parts where they actually focused on the in-ring were good, but certainly a match that could’ve been way better. A gentleman’s three in my book. ***
A very enjoyable wrestling show that showcased some of the best and brightest in the current Australian wrestling scene, with plenty worth watching. Some of the matches on the show should’ve been better, especially given their position on the card. The commentary wasn’t perfect either. That’s not to say the commentary was bad, but it did hurt the show at times. When they weren’t putting over stories, they leaned a bit too heavy into the “lads getting drunk and babbling on” style of commentary that permeates wrestling. If I was watching WrestleRock, I’d have no complaints about the commentary. All together, the sum of the parts do add up to produce a show definitely worth watching if you want to dip your toes into Australian wrestling for the first time, or the first time in a while.