IF YOU’D told me 18 months ago that the biggest pop I’d ever hear in Aussie wrestling was for a ring announcer working his final show, then I would have called you crazy.
If you’d told me that he’d receive a bigger pop than Adelaide-based favourite Jonah Rock on final east coast show before he starts with NXT, then I would have called you double crazy.
But that’s what happened last Sunday at PWA Black Label “Diego's Last Show” when the crowd went ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY BALLISTIC in paying their respects to the talented and immensely likable PWA ring announcer Diego Retamales.
I may have even had a few specks of dirt in my eyes as Diego – who’s leaving PWA to pursue his acting dream – farewelled the sell-out crowd at Max Watt’s in Sydney and left his snazzy shoes (shoes that will be hard to fill) on the stage. It was a helluva ending to a helluva show that kicked off 2019 in superb fashion.
Of course, how could you go wrong with a line-up that featured the aforementioned King Of Monsters (taking on the beloved hometown hero Robbie Eagles and the super-talented Adam Brooks from Melbourne), British hardcore maniac Jimmy Havoc and, in a sneaky-but-welcome surprise, EPW champion Gavin McGavin from Perth.
The card kicked off with the latest instalment of the impending implosion of the 4 Nations and tag team champions Mick Moretti and Jack J. Bonza. While I thought it might happen during their title match with Juan Direction, the split was delayed again as the dysfunctional champs eventually found a way to work together to take the pinfall victory in this fun (if at times sloppy) affair.
My New Year’s resolution to give intergender wrestling more of a chance faced its first challenge when PWWA title-holder Shazza McKenzie took on Tree Hugger Luchi. The bout was short, sweet and perfectly fine.
Next, we had a four-way spot-fest with Paris De Silva overcoming Adam Hoffman, Gavin McGavin and Jax Jordan. McGavin looked great in what little I saw, but it was a shame we couldn’t have seen him in a one-on-one encounter. That said, this was another fine bout.
I was surprised that the contest between Mat Rogers and Kai Drake was essentially a squash win for Rogers, but it was really just a backdrop to an ongoing angle where The Velocities (Jude London, Mat Diamond and Paris De Silva) came out to recruit the big guy to their faction. He vehemently turned down their offer and the trio came off rather heelish in their unhappiness about Mat’s decision. Not sure whether I’m gonna buy a heel Velocities, but we’ll see where this angle leads.
The last bout before intermission was clearly the match of the night with Eagles, Brooks and Rock tearing up the ring in a way only they can. This wasn’t a super-long bout, but it didn’t need to be as every wrestler shone multiple times before Eagles got the pin on Rock.
Jonah’s move to America is well-deserved – he’s one of the genuine good guys of Aussie wrestling and I hope he kills it in NXT – but he’ll be definitely be missed. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up in 2019 to try to take his mantle as the new King Of Monsters.
I watched the second half of the show from upstairs, which can be a bit of a shit-fight when it comes to finding a good spot to watch the action. I think in future I’ll pay the extra coin for a downstairs ticket.
Following intermission, PWA heavyweight champ Caveman Ugg crushed rookie heels The Prefects (Billy Preston and Jimmy Townsend). This was followed by a long, complicated angle featuring Big Fudge, Ricky South threatening to lap-dance Diego and Unsocial Jordan interrupting before accidentally superkicking Diego. It was all quite silly, but the crowd was happy to see so many crowd favourites make an appearance.
The semi-main was to feature Madison Eagles in a “No Rope Breaks Match” with arch-enemy Michael Spencer. Sadly, Madison was injured so her replacement was Jessica Troy. This was a surprisingly quick, decisive submission victory for Troy. In fact, it felt like the blow-off to this feud, which makes sense if Madison is going to be on the shelf for a while.
I’ve said plenty of times already that I’m very impressed with Matty Wahlberg. Well, he continued to impress as he went toe-to-toe with Jimmy Havoc in a brutal hardcore match. I heard later that one fan who’s clearly never heard of the internet stormed out in horror during this bout, but the rest of us loved it. Stapler shots to the head and groin, thumbtacks, blood, vicious chair shots, tables and even light tubes made an appearance in a bout full of shenanigans, outside interference and an eventual win by Matty. All in all, pretty bloody good stuff and a fantastic main event. We don’t get to see many hardcore bouts in Sydney, but if done sparingly they can be a real hoot.
SIDENOTE: It was great to meet a bunch of people during and after the show including Diego, Bass, Mick Moretti, Gavin McGavin and several WWGMD members. You may find this hard to believe but I’m incredibly shy in public and find it hard to talk to people. So I want to give a special shout-out to Adam Brooks, who I’ve known for years. He immediately put me at ease and we had a really good chat. A loose legend indeed.
It was also great to catch up with Jonah Rock, who’s a class act and a true gentleman.
But let’s return to the man of the hour: Diego. If you look at the rise of PWA over the past 18 months, a key part of the promotion’s success has been his professional, joyous and, at times, mischievous mic work.
It’s a fact that Diego’s superb ring announcing on World Series Wrestling and New Japan shows in Sydney only added to those events and his departure leaves a genuine massive hole in the local wrestling scene.
Replacing such a key part in the overall PWA package will be difficult, so good luck with that, fellas.
As for Diego, I hope your acting career soars to great heights. If you receive the same level of love and affection from theatre and movie audiences as you got from the crowd at Max Watt’s on this night, then you’re going to be a superstar.
PWA Black Label “Diego's Last Show” (January 13, Max Watt’s, Sydney, NSW – 300+ sell-out): PWA Tag Team Titles: 4 Nations (Mick Moretti and Jack J. Bonza) (c) b Juan Direction (Funny Juan & Romantic Juan); Shazza McKenzie b Tree Hugger Luchi; Paris De Silva b Adam Hoffman, Gavin McGavin and Jax Jordan; Mat Rogers b Kai Drake; Robbie Eagles b Adam Brooks and Jonah Rock; PWA Heavyweight Title: Caveman Ugg (c) b The Prefects (Billy Preston and Jimmy Townsend); No Rope Breaks Match: Jessica Troy b Michael Spencer; No-DQ Hardcore Match: Matty Wahlberg b Jimmy Havoc.
Review by Dann Lennard of https://bpzine.blogspot.com/