World Series Wrestling – Unleash Hell Tour (Night 1: Melbourne)

Lord Andy Coyne welcomes us and announces that Taya Valkyrie is a last minute withdrawal from the tour. He runs down the card, including a main event featuring Bandido wrestling Johnny DownUnder for the WSW tour.

The Major Players, Matt Cardona and Bryan Myers make their entrance. They come out flipping birds and Cardona asks the crowd to all hail “The Death Match King” and “The Most Professional Wrestler.” Cardona says that on the Saturday show he’ll be beating Johnny DownUnder to become WSW champion.

Myers calls for a tune up match, some local opponents, and “The Major Player Open Challenge” is answered by Redbeard (the former Eric Rowan) and Adelaide wrestler Matt Basso. They’re performing as WarBeard.

Tag Team Match: The Major Players (Cardona & Myers) vs WarBeard (Redbeard and Basso)

Cardona and Myers stall – they aren’t happy with their opponents. A lot of heel tropes and comedy from The Major Players. They beat up Basso until Redbeard gets the tag. He hits a double drop kick, then a tope atomica to Cardona for 2. A combination Choke/claw slam from Bass and Redbeard results in Cardona eating the 3 ahead of his title challenge tomorrow.

Winners: WarBeard (Redbeard & Matt Basso)

The winners drink a beer, then we’re straight into the next match.

Blake Christian vs TJP vs Flip Gordon

Christian is announced as being from AEW and Ring of Honor. United Empire’s TJP is currently one half of New Japan’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champs; he’s also a former WWE Cruiserweight Champion, and won their Cruiserweight challenge (beating Johnny Gargano and Kota Ibushi along the way.) Flip Gordon is one half of the WSW Tag Team champs, along with Brian Cage.

The action is quick from the start, but there seems to be a lot of the third guy standing around waiting. Flashing red and blue lights from the set become really distracting during this match, then the lighting rig goes out altogether for a second or two. Commentary announces that Gordon and Cage are defending their tag titles tomorrow night against Australian stars The Parea.

TJP hits a DDT to Christian that he completely no-sells, which I hate. Christian hits a Spanish fly and a 450 splash to TJP and he kicks out, and it’s positively indy-riffic at this point, with Christian also hitting a running Spanish fly. Flip hits a springboard superkick to TJP as he sits on the top turnbuckle, he hits a Finlay roll to Christian, and covers both opponents for 2. Gordon hits a springboard stunner with the pin interrupted, and a finishing sequence involving all 3 results in TJP pinning Gordon with his Detonation Kick. This was a fun, fast-paced match, but it also involved a bit too much no-selling and guys standing around.

TJP wins by pinfall (Gordon takes the fall)

TJP and Christian shake hands after the match. They appear set for a one-on-one match later this tour?

Women’s Title First Contender match: “The Arm Collector” Jessica Troy vs Steph de Lander

Jessica Troy is an Australian wrestling superstar who should be wrestling somewhere full time. She’s a former champion in Australia’s two biggest promotions, Pro Wrestling Australia and Melbourne City Wrestling. Steph de Lander is also a multiple-time champion across Australia, including being MCW’s first Women’s Champion, before heading off to NXT. de Lander has made recent appearances for Impact and on AEW Dark tapings. This match is about as big as it gets for women’s wrestling in Australia.

SdL starts by imposing her physical dominance before she misses a spear into the corner and Jess turns it around. Jess hits a stomp on the arm and locks in an armbar before letting it go. After some back and forth, including a sick brain buster to SdL, Jess locks in an armbar, SdL rolls into a 2-count to break the hold, and hits a facebaster. Jess lands near the ropes and breaks the count at 2. Jess reverses a powerbomb attempt, locks in an armbar hooking the leg, and de Lander has to tap.

It was really good, but still probably only a teaser of what they can do. If you gave them 20 minutes it would be incredible.

Winner and #1 contender to the WSW Women’s Championship: Jessica Troy

Singles match: “The Machine” Brian Cage vs “The Walking Weapon” Josh Alexander

Brian Cage is a current AEW wrestler and Ring of Honor Trio’s champion. He is also half of the WSW Tag Team Champions, and a former Impact World Champion. Josh Alexander is the current Impact World Champion, and he and Mike Bailey had one of the best matches of 2022.

Commentary are billing this as a “dream match.” Maybe that’s true in the Impact Wrestling universe? We get quite a bit of back-and-forth kick/punch before Cage shows some of his athleticism and the fight to the ringside.

Cage hits a spine buster and a powerbomb for a 2-count, before Alexander hits a Finlay roll and knee strike for 2. Cage gets out of an Alexander ankle lock, hits an F5, and Alexander kicks out. They trade powerbombs across their respective knees, then trade knees and elbows. Second and third ankle lock attempts don’t get it done for Alexander, but the fourth one sticks before Cage reaches the bottom rope. Alexander tries to lock Cage in for his C4 Spike, but The Parea have seen enough and attack both men for the bell.

Flip Gordan comes in for the save, and the numbers result in The Parea being beaten down.

Result: No contest

Cage and Alexander shake hands, and along with Gordon they pose after the match.

I was a bit critical of this being called a “dream match”, but these two really delivered. It was a really good, long finishing sequence before the unfortunate no contest ending. Go out of your way to see this.

Tag Team Match: The Parea (Eli Theseus & Gabriel Aeros) vs “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela and Effy

This surprise matchup is amazing. Effy starts with a lot of the “Effyisms”, and while Aeros doesn’t know what to make of it, a lot of the crowd seems familiar with him, which is great. Lot of junk-based offence early in the match with Janela and Effy getting the upper hand. The Parea then take over and beat up Janela.

Aeros, standing in the corner, wraps his fist in his gold chain, but Janela manages to reverse it, with Theseus running into Aeros. Effy’s in with a TKO for a nearfall. Blockbusters from the top rope don’t get it done, and Effy says “JOEY, GET THE TABLES!”

Joey comes back with chairs and a door, the GCW pair set up a scaffold, but are then cut off. The Parea look for a double team suplex but Janela holds them off. He has Theseus in the electric chair and Effy hits a cross body through the door. Aeors breaks up the fall, and with Aeros taking out Janela on the outside, he then hits Effy with the chain, and Theseus gets the pin. A good match setting up The Parea’s title challenge.

Winners; The Parea

WSW Women’s World Title Match: “HeartbreakCore” Shazza McKenzie (c) vs “The Juggernaut” Jordynne Grace

Jordynne is a two-time Impact Knockouts Champion, and is a former holder of the WSW title. Shazza won the title from Taya Valkyrie at the final show of the last tour.

Shazza powders and tries to leave before Jordynne brings her back into the ring, hits some strikes, and plants McKenzie with the Grace Driver for the quick pin-and-win.

Winner and NEEEW WSW Women’s World Champion: Jordyne Grace

It was what it was, but one quick squash on a show like this certainly doesn’t offend me.

WSW World Title Match: Johnny DownUnder (c) vs Bandido

The former John Morrison is a decorated former multi-time WWE Intercontinental and tag team champion (as well as WWECW champion). He’s won major titles in Impact, AAA, Lucha Underground and Impact. He is the current WSW champion, winning the vacant title at last year’s tour. Bandido is currently working with AEW and is a former champion in ROH and PWG. This match feels like a big deal.

We wait for dueling chants before both wrestlers go and pose with a fan at ringside dressed as Shrek. Comedy spots as Bandido puts the Shrek head on Johnny DownUnder for a superkick. This was all a bit dumb.

As they get more serious, Bandido hits a couple of monkey flips as Morrison does the full 450 flip to sell it. After a whole bunch of fast-paced stuff I couldn’t even describe, Bandido hits a frog splash for a looong 2-count.

The end comes pretty suddenly when Johnny DownUnder crunches out of a pin in a wild feat of strength, before going on to hit his Starship Pain finisher for the win.

This was a short match that probably reflected the fact that it was night 1 of the show. It was good, but a bit underwhelming.

Winner and STILL WSW World Champion: Johnny DownUnder

Johnny joins the crowd in cheering Bandido out before the Major Players hit the ring to attack Johnny DownUnder, before Bandido returns to the ring for the save.

Overall Thoughts: This was a really good show. Cage vs Alexander was great, and everything else was at least good – including the Christian vs TJP vs Gordan match that a lot of people will like much more than I did. 

There was nothing too disappointing on this show, although I did think the no contest finish stopped Cage and Alexander from being a match we’ll talk about at the end of the year, and there’s a bit of “what might have been” about Bandido vs John Morrison.

The production of WSW shows is usually excellent and, while there were some hiccups with the lighting in the first half the show, they were pretty minor. The crowd sounded great at this show and, while I wish they ran Melbourne shows in a more convenient location, you can’t deny how good the building looks on camera.

Personally, I love seeing top-class Australian talent on the show, and they absolutely hit the mark with Jessica Troy and The Parea in particular. With that said, as a Melbourne wrestling fan, it was a tad disappointing that there were no Melbourne wrestlers on the show.

Go out of your way to watch this show. At around 2.5 hours without intermission it’s a quick watch full of really good wrestling.
How to watch: The WSW Unleash Hell tour is available to Fite+ subscribers.

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