Sometimes you’re lucky enough to go to a local show that leaves you thinking “I’m an idiot that I wasn’t here all along.”
More rare are shows that you attend where you can visibly see the promotion elevating itself amongst the tiers of Australian wrestling promotions right in front of your eyes.
Last night’s Renegades of Wrestling show was both those things.
This was my first Renegades event, held at Max Watts in Melbourne’s Swanston St (formerly the HiFi bar). I’ve been to DMDU events just outside the city, and Renegades have also done shows right on the CBD outskirts, but this is the first time I’ve seen a company bold enough to find a venue right in the middle of the city.
The first impression walking in is that Max Watts looks amazing from a visual perspective. Other impressions were that, while it’s not a huge venue, it was a good sized crowd for the venue.
I arrived as our house band, Drastic Park are on stage, and any concerns around the audio of Max Watts was immediately out the window (although those concerns should’ve been minor when it’s predominantly a music venue.) I’d not heard of them before, but they were really good!
The only issue was they ran a little long, which meant the event didn’t start til about 8.35pm.
Jarvis vs Santiago Silva
Jarvis is starting to get regular bookings across some of Melbourne’s bigger promotions, including Renegades, MCW and a recent NJPW TAMASHII appearance. In Renegades, he is one quarter of ‘The Ambush’, a faction led by Emman Azman, which was established last year.
Santiago Silva is a relative newcomer who has been training at Melbourne’s Relentless House of Pro Wrestling, which you can hear more about in our interview with JXT in the coming days. In that interview JXT mentioned that Silva is one of the Relentless students that he is excited about.
Jarvis comes out with The Ambush, before Aysha goes to the back, leaving Murdoch and Emman at ringside. He is an amazing smarmy heel talking smack to Silva, so Santiago goes aerial and gets an early advantage. It’s impossible not to notice the striking similarities, at least looks-wise, between Santiago and Juventud Guerrera.
Murdoch continues to try and get involved, switching momentum in Jarvis’ favour, before Santiago recovers with a series of roll-ups and backslides. Jarvis pushes him off and Santiago is met with a strike from Murdoch. This results in Jarvis hitting a handspring stunner for a looong 2.
Jarvis is being a massive jerk and the crowd is HOT for it. Santiago hits a gorgeous lionsault for 2, before heading up for a moonsault where Murdoch again interferes.
Santiago goes on to hit a massive leg drop for another long 2, before Emman puts Jarvis’ foot on the rope. Jarvis rolls up Silva with his feet on the top rope, but the ref catches him. As the ref admonishes him, Jarvis pulls the ref between himself and Silva, and as the ref is pushed out of the way Jarvis hits a sick roundhouse kick for 3.
This was a really fast-paced, fun, hot opener that got the crowd involved. Santiago looked great in his first Renegades outing, and Jarvis is a guy who I think is going to start being booked everywhere, he’s a very good worker and a great smarmy bad guy.
AJ Istria vs Jake Andrewartha
This is a match that we’ve been waiting for since before COVID. This is Istria’s first Renegades appearance, although he’s obviously a mainstay of Australian wrestling who has been pretty much everywhere. Andrewartha debuted on the first Renegades show leading his Dominion of Violence faction. He is joined by Hector Jones for his entrance before Jake sends him to the back.
They go to brawl before the bell but the ref attempts to break it up. As the bell rings Istria explodes with a quick start and wails on Jake. As Andrewartha recovers he misses a Senton that may well have caused Istria to burst had it hit, Istria rolls him up for 2.
We get a massive spinning heel kick from Andrewartha before they go back to trading shots. Istria hits a clever dropkick to Jake’s leg, allowing him to hit a half-Nelson suplex. AJ locks in an armbar, but Jake gets the ropes. He tries to chop his way out of his conundrum before AJ fights him off, and this time Istria locks in a deeeep armbar. Andrewartha powers out, and they return to beating each other up. Jake ultimately finishes it with a quasi-powerbomb.
This was so much more fun than I expected. I like Andrewartha, but usually he’s the base for more agile guys to work around. In this match he and Istria absolutely went 50/50 in terms of output, and I think this is probably the best Jake Andrewartha match I’ve seen. It was fast, it was hard hitting, there was plenty of mat work – it had a little bit of everything. Despite his size, Istria more than held his own playing the role of hoss. I really liked this.
Winner: Jake Andrewartha
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Delta vs Chanel Phoenix
Speaking of hoss fights!
The story here is that these two met in the first round of the Renegades of Wrestling Championship tournament, fighting to a double count-out that eliminated both from the tournament. Delta is obviously making a huge name for herself across Adelaide and Melbourne, holding the MCW Women’s Championship and last month tapping out Jake Andrewartha for his first pin or submission loss in around 4 years. Chanel is part of Andrewartha’s Dominion of Violence (although there’s no connection here between MCW canon and Renegades canon.)
They go to lock up, with Chanel being a jerk and pulling her hands away at the last minute. We start with an even Greco-Roman knuckle lock, with both women getting moments where they held the advantage, before Chanel kicks her way out of it. They start trading shots before Phoenix throws Delta to the outside.
As Delta recovers Chanel grabs a kendo stick, while Delta grabs a chair before both re-enter the ring. Chanel gets the better of the exchange before locking Delta in an armbar in the ropes. “F**KING TAP!”
It looked like Chanel kind of slipped off the hold here, and she took an ugly looking tumble to the floor, where both start brawling through the crowd and up the stairs to the Max Watts mezzanine level. Delta tries to dump Phoenix over the rail from a terrifying height, but Chanel recovers and dumps Delta down the stairs for another painful looking fall.
As they re-enter the ring, Chanel puts Delta through a chair with a sidewalk slam, and Phoenix is clearly dominating the majority of this match. She takes too long to capiltalise though, and Delta recovers, grabs the kendo stick and hits Phoenix, but Phoenix again takes control quickly. She hits a superplex, and Delta is getting beat up in a way I’ve never seen.
Chanel’s Dominion of Violence comrade in Hector Jones sets up a door in the corner of the ring, but Delta fights off Chanel’s attempt to put her through it. Chanel misses a huge 360-degree legdrop off the top rope, before she gets speared through the door for 3. Her shoulder was on the door rather than the mat, but no one seemed to notice or care.
This was another match where one of the competitors – Chanel Phoenix – had the best match of hers that I’ve seen. This was an amazing hoss fight between 2 women who could believably hold their own against any wrestler of any gender. I also really loved Delta’s performance in this match, wrestling as a semi-underdog against a hoss beast who was just beating her up is a role I’ve not seen Delta play much, but damn this match worked. Another ripper match, and this show is on fire three matches in.
We get a promo from the Bastard Brothers, Krackerjak and Gore. They talk about the beating they gave the VeloCities at the last Renegades show, and say that at the next show on Sunday 21 May, they would be having a re-match to decide the inaugural Renegades of Wrestling Tag Team Champions. The next match will be a two-out-of-three falls match, with a regular match, a street fight… and “a bed of f**king nails match”. Krackerjack suggests they might even throw the streetfight to make sure they get to use the bed of nails.
These guys are terrifying!
ROW Championship #1 Contender’s Match: Caveman Ugg vs Anth Cava vs Hector Jones
Hector is part of the Dominion of Violence. Anth is doing the Lex Luger/Chris Masters gimmick with what I believe was an awesome new entrance, and he is just oozing charisma. Ugg has had two Renegades matches, losing the main event of the first Renegades show to JONAH/Bronson Reed, before winning a tag match alongside Locky Hendricks and Rat Daddy against the Dominion of Violence.
As the bell rings, Hector tells Anth “I’ve got this”, so Anth waits in the corner while Hector has a nipple chopped off by Ugg. Anth inserts himself, informing Ugg that “I’m a real man” before attempting a chop of his own that Ugg doesn’t even register. He then wrecks Anth with a chop of his own.
Hector and Anth decide they probably need to team up, and they get an advantage by taking turns with strikes to Ugg. Ugg manages to reverse the advantage and monkey flips Hector out of the corner, with Jones colliding with Cava.
The bad guys manage to regain control and dispense of Ugg onto the stage before fighting each other. They go back and forth before the 140kg Caveman Ugg hits a tope con hiro from the stage, over the top rope and back into the ring. Amazing!
Ugg continues murdering both opponents with overhand chops before Cava demonstrates his enormous power, hitting Ugg with a slam for 2. Hector momentarily re-enters the match, but Cava manages to lock in the Master Lock on Ugg. It’s ineffective, as Ugg just powers out before Hector hits Ugg with a drop kick and a snap suplex to Cava.
We continue, and Cava tosses Jones with a Northern Lights suplex to Hector, he goes to hit him with a German suplex out of the corner, but Ugg recovers and hits a double German. He goes back to the chops.
Hector and Anth hit Ugg with the Hart Attack, before they take turns trying to cover Ugg with the other man breaking it up. Ugg recovers with a double clothesline and all three are down. Ugg is up first, he slams Hector, but after Cava breaks up the pin, Ugg rewards him with a sitout powerbomb for the 3-count.
We’re seeing a trend here – Anth Cava joins the “best match he’s had” club on this evening. Seeing him go from being a student fresh out of training, to this narcissist, charismatic douchebag is great.
This is exactly how three-ways should be. It wasn’t one of those where two guys fight and one guy takes a nap, then they change it up every so often – this was a genuine three-way fight.
Winner and #1 Contender: Caveman Ugg
Renegades of Wrestling Women’s Championship: Shazza McKenzie (c) v Aysha
Shazza won the Women’s Title tournament at the previous Renegades show. She beat Lena Kross in the first round, had a semi-final bye after Chanel Phoenix and Delta eliminated each other, then beat Tarlee in the final. As the only losing semi-finalist, Aysha is the right choice to be number 1 contender.
I’m particularly excited to see Aysha after our recent PWDownunder interview, where she discussed the ongoing development of her “First Class” character at Shawn Spears’ and Tyler Breeze’s Flatbacks academy in the US.
We start out with hair pulling, before they call a truce and break it up. They go back and forth to start, but babyface Shaz is ruthless with her striking. Jarvis is out with Aysha and interrupts, allowing Aysha to take over. She’s a cocky dick, and she’s already oozing charisma that I haven’t seen from her before. She gets in a roll up for two and a heel kick for 2, talking smack the whole time, and I love it!
They go into a chop battle before Aysha gets caught up in the ropes for Shaz to deliver the ten punt kicks to the chest. She gets to 9 when Jarvis jumps on the apron, so she boots him off and delivers the tenth kick to Aysha.
Aysha recovers and takes advantage before climbing the turnbuckle, where Shaz interrupts her and delivers a powerbomb for 2. Aysha manages to deliver a sick Shining Wizard for 2. Aysha then goes onto hit a Sunset Flip for 2, before Shazza hits an STO and locks in an escalera. Jarvis hops up onto the apron so Shaz lets the hold go.
Then, with the ref distracted by Jarvis, Aysha NAILS Shaz with her champagne bottle, that’s 3, and I’m stupidly emotional about the incredible performance Aysha just gave having spoken to her about all the work she’s done.
You could see everything that she’d been working on in this match, which was super heart-warming. The mannerisms, the smack talk, the crispness of her moves like that sick Shining Wizard – she’s on another level, and once again, Aysha has delivered what I think might be the best singles performance of her career.
She celebrates post match with another bottle of champagne, drinking it from the bottle and still talking smack.
Winner and NEEEW Renegades of Wrestling Women’s Champion: AYSHA!!!
Of course, it would be grossly negligent of me to leave this match without talking about Shazza Mckenzie. Shaz recently announced that, after 15 years as one of Australia’s top wrestlers (of any gender) and multiple overseas tours, she is relocating to the United States to have a shot at full-time wrestling.
I couldn’t be happier for her, and on behalf of PWDownunder, I wish all the good luck in the world to Shazza McKenzie! I know that she’ll do great, and I can’t wait to follow the next stage of her career.
The Memorial of “Loverboy” Lochy Hendricks
The story of Loverboy is that he’d always been a jerk everywhere, but he came to Renegades as the squeaky clean babyface who wanted to lead this new company, talking about how important it was to him. This was before he lost in the ROW Championship tournament semi-final to Matt Diamond and subsequently beat the hell out of him, losing his mind in the process.
We begin the segment with a video that Lochy recently posted to social media, focusing on members of ‘the 27 club’ including Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.
A veiled Black Widow enters the stage and pays tribute to Loverboy before introducing “the only man who could give this eulogy – Lochy Hendricks.” (The Black Widow sounds like Caity Luxe, but it’s unclear yet whether that’s going to be relevant.)
Lochy taunts the crowd, saying he manipulated us. When he wanted us to cheer we cheered, and when he wanted us to boo, we booed. “You’re doing it right now!” He says he has each and every single one of us in the palm of his hand, because we’re the equivalent of NPC (nonplayable characters?) who need us to save him.
We are now introduced to “The Aspirationalist” Lochy Hendricks. He explains that he’s an aspirationalist because names like Hector Jones, Caity Luxe, Anth Cava, Gore, Tarlee, and Jarvis are people he guided and mentored into stardom.
That’s without mentioning the attraction he has become. He has been Wrestlerock Champion for 2 shows, which both sold out because of “The Aspirationalist.” He says he was once in “this deathmatch company” and in his last appearance he headlined and drew their biggest crowd ever – because of “The Aspirationalist.”
Loverboy no longer serves a purpose to Lochy Hendricks – Loverboy is dead, and “The Aspriationalist” has arrived.
The segment finishes with a 10-bell salute, and Lochy looks and sounds like a cult leader that you wouldn’t let anywhere near your children!
“The Golden Tiger” Emman Azman vs Robbie Eagles
Emman started at Renegades with a losing streak, before going onto form The Ambush with Jarvis, Murdoch and Aysha. His explanation was that as young, hungry talents they shouldn’t be fighting each other, they should be working with each other to take over. There is history between Emman and Robbie, having worked as a tag team a few times.
Emman comes out and his new entrance routine rules. He’s dancing, and it’s obnoxious as hell, I love it!
Now, a lot of readers will have seen independent wrestling where the commentators go “this is going to be wild, we couldn’t describe most of what’s going to happen even if we wanted to, so we’re leaving commentary to go and enjoy this from the crowd.”
This is my equivalent of that. A match between these two is something you’re going to have to watch, it’s not something I could describe. But suffice to say, it was excellent. I was expecting a high-flying, athletic contest, but the story seemed to be that they cancelled each other out with athleticism – so they just beat the absolute snot out of each other. There were stiff shots throughout this, and a poison-rana from Emman to Robbie that I was sure had broken Robbie’s neck (he was fine!)
Emman more than holds his own, fired up by a section of people who were clearly here to support him, but Robbie ultimately wins a great match with a 450 splash to the knee, followed up by a Ron Millar Special with a ropebreak, before Eagles immediately reapplies it for the tapout.
I’m repeating myself, but add Emman to the club – Emman is a tremendous talent and I’ve seen him do some incredible things, but this is the best singles match I’ve ever seen him have. I’m not sure whether it will still be in my top 10 matches of the year by the end of 2023, but I’ve certainly added it to the list of matches that I’ll rewatch in December. This was outstanding.
Winner: Robbie Eagles
Post-match, Emman is on his knees holding his hand up for a handshake. Robbie is unsure, but agrees, and as he takes Emman’s hand, Jarvis runs from the back, hops the top rope, and starts wrecking Robbie. For a short beatdown, this was very notable, because Jarvis looked like a savage, and afterwards Emman donned Robbie’s bandana, starts mocking his pose, and behaves like a raging jerk as he leaves to his own music. This heel character of Emman’s is a whole new guy, I can’t wait to see him continue progressing.
Renegades of Wrestling Championship Match – Swanston St Street Fight: Rat Daddy (c) vs Matt Hayter
We’ve got a fun battle of Adelaide’s best here. Rat Daddy won the inaugural Renegades title, beating Murdoch, Hayter and Matt Diamond. Matt Hayter had a fun tournament, losing in the first round to Lochy Henricks, before replacing his comrade JXT (who was injured) in the tournament and losing the semi-final to Rat Daddy. The story of Hayter being top contender seems to be that he’s got that much of an ego and he’s that confident that he just made himself the top contender.
We start with “PISS” chants for Rat Daddy, and Hayter is having none of it. They don’t lock up, instead exiting the ring to grab weapons from under the ring. Hayter comes up with a chair, Rat Daddy comes up with a cheese grater. Hayter wins that face off, before the weapons are reversed. Hayter suggests a truce where they both put their weapons down, and Rat Daddy agrees before Hayter screws him and attacks with the cheese grater, whipping him in the chest and back.
The rodent father manages to wrest control of the grater, using it to attack Hayter’s junk (cringe!) Hayter escapes and grabs a trash can which he nerfs at Rat Daddy, wailing him in the head. As Rat starts to recover Hayter goes back to the bin, but this results in a Rat Daddy dropkick down low, causing Hayter to eat the bin. Rat Daddy puts the bin on Hayter’s head and hits a springboard kick for 2.
They fight into the crowd where Hayter attacks Rat Daddy into the chair, then they fight into the bar – which I cant see!
When they come back to the ring Hayter finds a box on the stage, and tells Rat Daddy it’s a present for him. As Rat Daddy (stupidly) puts his hand in blindly, he’s caught by an enormous rat trap. (An actual rat trap, not the Rat Daddy move!) Hayter hits a tornado DDT for 2 before berating the referee – “COUNT QUICKER!”
Hayter tunes up the band, but Rat Daddy avoids the superkick and smashes Hayter in the face with the trash can lid. He then goes to the outside, looks under the ring, and pulls out a board covered in mouse traps. After some back and forth hovering over the mouse traps, Rat Daddy kisses Hayter and pushes him into them. Rat Daddy then retrieves a plastic bag from the stage and dumps gross, plastic cheese slices all over the ring. He then finds a jug (not a bag!) of thumbtacks and dumps them on top of the cheese.
Hayter fights out of a fireman’s carry, and it’s Hayter who powerbombs Rat Daddy into the tacks and cheese before attacking his forehead with the cheese grater. Hayter grabs a table from under the ring, and when Rat Daddy fights back Hayter starts working at the thumbtacks that are still in Rat’s back.
Hayter has Rat Daddy in the corner for a vertical suplex – then Rat Daddy hits a wild sunset flip powerbomb where, instead of powering Hayter down through the table, he flung him across the ring right across the table, flipping it over rather than breaking it. Thinking quickly with the seemingly planned finish just knackered, Hayter pops up, Rat Daddy hits him with a superkick, Hayter headbuts the leg of the table as a result, and that’s the 3-count.
Rat Daddy celebrates, slaps Hayter’s backside, then leaves.
This was a good match, but it possibly suffered a little by going on well after 11pm. A few people had left, and while the match was very good, it was pretty much as expected, and so much of what we’d seen up until now was so much better than expected.
Winner and STIIIILL Renegades of Wrestling Champion: Rat Daddy
I loved, loved, loved this show. I think I might have been lucky that I had a seat in a standing venue, cos it was a late finish, and the standing venue may have contributed to some people leaving early – I have seen some social media chatter supporting this. I don’t mind the 8.30 start on a Friday night, but 11.20(ish) was a late finish for my old bones, and I wouldn’t have made it if I were standing up either.
With that said, from my vantage point this is among the best – or at least most fun – two or three shows I’ve ever been to in Melbourne, it was that good. Seeing so many people put on career best performances means that all those matches were better than I expected them to be, and it was hot match after hot match throughout.
As mentioned, Santiago Silva, Jarvis, Jake Andrewartha, Chanel Phoenix, Anth Cava, Aysha, and Emman Azman all put on performances over and above what I’ve seen from them before, and that’s wildly exciting. A (mild) complaint I have with some other Melbourne companies is that they can sometimes ignore Melbourne wrestlers in favour of people from interstate – but all those names mentioned above are all based in Melbourne, and they all gave us tremendous reason to be excited for their careers, and for Renegades of Wrestling as a whole going forward.
I don’t usually do “number ratings”, but this was a 10 out of 10 from me.
How to watch:
Renegades of Wrestling – The Return of the Renegades is already listed for broadcast on Fite+ at 8pm on Friday 31 March. Go out of your way to watch it as soon as you can!
The next show has been announced for Sunday 21 May. Follow them on twitter @ROWrestlingAU to find out when tickets go on sale.