Review: EPW Goldrush 2023

Explosive Pro Wrestling (EPW) out of Perth has been a mainstay of Australian wrestling for over 20 years, and has been considered among our best promotions for most of that time.

As I shine a spotlight on various promotions around the country I wanted to have a look at EPW, so I went with their Goldrush 2023 show from early March, which was recently uploaded to Vimeo.

I’ve watched some EPW in the past, but mainly shows they’ve uploaded to Youtube well after the event, so from a storyline perspective I’m coming into this cold. My understanding is that there’s something of a shoot merger/takeover happening between EPW and Southern Hemisphere Pro Wrestling, which is borne out in storylines on this show.

We don’t get a sub for the ring announcer – he goes right into welcoming us to the Freo Social and announcing the final of the EPW Invitational Tournament, with the winner getting a title shot.

First impressions on the production are really good. The lighting is a little reflective, and the ringside cameras don’t have much regard to shining straight into the lights, but they’re such minor quibbles. The audio is great, which is a thumbs up.

EPW Invitational Tournament Final: “The Don” Michael Morleone vs Tyler F’n Jacobs

Morleone starts with a cheap shot but Jacobs quickly fires back with a drop kick and 2 tope suicidas to the outside. As they re-enter the ring it’s back and forth including some slugging and a pretty sick DDT from Jacobs.

Morleone starts attacking the leg of Jacobs while acting like a huge douchebag, and wraps the leg of Jacobs around the ring post. Jacobs starts loosening up the boot, which creates a target as Morleone locks in an ankle lock. No clean break when Jacobs makes the rope and Morleone goes back to the ankle lock before Jacobs boot slips off. Jacobs manages to hit a superkick, but it’s not enough, and he’s now really selling the impacts of the lower leg injury.

A cool spot where Morleone goes for a choke bomb but is caught by a hurricanrana. Morleone’s second, SHWA General Manager CJL (who wasn’t introduced pre-match) pulls the ref out at two, and Morleone hits the choke bomb for 3.

Just a quick opener to get Morleone over as a ruthless heel. Nothing extraordinary, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Winner: Michael Morleone

Post-match Devlin Reeves, announced as the General Manager of EPW, enters the stage and says he needs to address CJL’s behaviour. Reeves is sick and tired of CJL’s bullshit and he suggests that as CJL is a man of high risk and high reward, he’s suggesting a 3 on 3 match at EPW Collision Course, with the winning team’s man to receive total control of EPW and SHWA.

CJL gleefully accepts the challenge, and Reeves finishes by saying that if CJL gets involved in the upcoming title matches then they’ll be seeing each other again “but it won’t be to talk.”

The Untouchables (Marcius Pitt, Damian Slater & Jesse Lambert w/ Amber) vs Cal Collins, “Big Boy Smash” Ryan Rivers, Cannon Connors

Commentary explains that Amber is manipulating Lambert into being involved with The Untouchables, because Lambert has a crush on her. They question Lambert’s position within The Untouchables and TMDK (with Lambert wearing a TMDK tshirt, which he takes off to reveal L plate gear) and go onto explain his crush on Amber costing Two and a Half Men a tag team opportunity.

Commentary also tells us that we haven’t seen Collins in EPW for a while, and put over Connors as a new addition to EPW who has been impressive early in his career.

Lambert and Collins start, with The Untouchables not even standing on the apron as Rivers tags in. Lambert is being dominated with his teammates refusing to tag in. Lambert tells Rivers that if he doesn’t slam him again he can join The Untouchables (which is sold as being ridiculous, cos he clearly doesn’t have that authority) – so Rivers slams him again.

Now it’s Rivers and Connors, with Lambert finally getting in a position of control – so Pitt tags in. He and Slater start hitting some tag team moves and frequently tagging each other, ignoring Lambert.

After a heat spot Connors briefly manages to turn things around against Pitt before Slater and Amber interfere behind the ref’s back, allowing them to re-assume control. Connors manages to fight out of The Untouchables’ corner to tag in Collins, who brings some fire. Doesn’t last long though, with Pitt hitting an awesome German suplex. 

As Lambert gets involved with the offence, Pitt yells at him, allowing Connors to inadvertently hit Pitt as Lambert ducks. Collins tags in Rivers, and the good guys are hitting tandem offence on Slater with Pitt breaking up a 3-count.

Rivers refuses to tag in Lambert, and instead powders to the outside. Lambert enters the ring anyway and gets the better of all three opponents. Pitt lifts Rivers and Lambert dives off the top rope attempting an assisted DDT – Pitt walks away, allowing Lambert to eat it, and in the other corner is Slater to hit the move for the 3-count.

I liked this match. The 3 young guys all looked really promising, and Slater and Pitt are so good. Everything they do just looks crisp as hell. A little bit of comedy storytelling as well, and this match had a bit of everything.

Winners: The Untouchables

EPW Coastal Championship Match: Del Cano w/ Blake Walker vs Bruno Nitro (c) 

Commentary puts over the “new attitude” of Del Cano and talk about Walker being a hired gun. Nitro is put over as a fan favourite as he dances his way around the ring.

We start off with back and forth mat-wrestling, including a really nice head-scissors and dropkick from Nitro. He lines up Del Cano, but Walker pulls him from the ring, then stands in Nitro’s way as he attempts a tope, allowing Del Cano to crotch Nitro on the ring post and then tie his legs to it for a drop kick, which is a spot I haven’t seen before.

After a heat spot Nitro tries to assume control, but Walker again gets involved letting Del Cano take over again, where he just starts wailing on Nitro. A moment of hubris allows Nitro to hit a springboard clothesline and an exploder suplex for a near-fall.

We continue, and Del Cano hangs Nitro up in the ring ropes, attempts a drop kick, and crotches himself. Nitro climbs up top and dives onto Walker on the outside. He then goes up top for a double stomp, but he’s taken too long and Del Cano avoids it and hits an enzuigiri. Del Cano distracts the ref allowing Walker to chokeslam Nitro, then Zenith arrives to “take revenge” on Walker, with Walker chasing him to the back.

In the ring, Nitro hits some kicks and a top rope double stomp commentary call “The Redeemer”, and that’s enough for three.

This was just ok. I think I’d like Nitro a lot if I saw more of him, but this was almost more focussed on Blake Walker than on Del Cano, which felt a bit strange.

Winner and STILL EPW Coastal Champion: Bruno Nitro

EPW/SHWA Tag Title Unification Street Fight: Davis Storm & Mikey Nicholls (EPW Champions) vs “The Pulse” Jarrad Slate & Felix Young (SHWA Champions)

Davis Storm doesn’t need any introduction in Australian wrestling. “The Godfather” has been with EPW since the start and has wrestled across Australia. Mikey Nicholls – TMDK member, former NOAH tag champ, NJPW tag title contender, former NXT Superstar – is another legend who has led the renaissance of Australian wrestling and the foreign legion of Australian wrestlers who’ve been able to make careers overseas.

The Pulse enter from the emergency exit rather than from the stage, and commentary explain that these teams have met previously at Re-Awakening, albeit with Nicholls as a mystery tag partner for Davis Storm.

The Pulse invite their opponents to start the fight in the crowd, and we’re underway with some chaos. It’s a really fun brawl through the crowd with both teams pairing off, and Slate eating a bar stool from Nicholls. As the teams come together however, The Pulse manage to source a table, and Mikey ultimately cops a back body drop from Slate breaking it in half.

The Pulse returns Davis to the ring and bring out more weapons before Mikey returns to the ring and again gets taken out. Storm cops some real nice looking tag team moves from The Pulse, then Nicholls cops a kendo stick and it’s an elongated 2-on-1 assault on Davis at this point, isolated from his partner. The Pulse do a great, convincing job of cutting off Nicholls every time he tries to come back.

After a long and brutal beatdown, Storm is hit with a double team piledriver but Mikey finally returns to the ring with a chain to break up the pin. He’s still in rough shape though, and The Pulse continue to brutalise their opponents.

As Davis recovers, Mikey manages to hit double clotheslines and recovers long enough to pull out two forks and attack his opponents. He makes a mess of Young’s forehead before Slate returns for a double powerbomb that Nicholls barely kicks out of.

Slate and Young retrieve a table and guardrail allowing Mikey to recover. As The Pulse attempts to seize control Davis returns to the ring and puts Slate through the guardrail. Nicholls hits a Death Valley Driver to Young for two.

Slate returns with a bag of thumbtacks that he dumps on the ringmat, but Davis reverses Slate’s attempt at a Razor’s Edge and hits an Unprettier/Eye of the Storm into the tacks and Young takes an avalanche vertical suplex through the table for two. 

This time Storm sets up for Eye of the Storm, but Nicholls elevates him for maximum impact, and this time it’s over.

This was an awesome war. I knew how good Nicholls and Storm were, but The Pulse looked great here. Incredible match, though one I’m glad is over, cos it was very hard to describe!

The crowd greets the post-match handshake with an extremely warranted “that was awesome” chant. I loved this!

Winner and NEEEW UNIFIED EPW/SHWA Tag Team Champions: Davis Storm & Mikey Nicholls

After a nice post-match, here come The Untouchables, and Slater/Pitt vs Nicholls/Storm doesn’t even need selling when you think about that match.

Slater says that Perth wrestling is a mudshow compared to the rest of Australia because all anyone worries about is the past. But TMDK is the past, the present and the future. He suggests Storm might be getting weak in his old age, who is happy to be a big fish in a small pond, and maybe his mate (Nicholls) is getting a taste of that too.

Slater tells Storm and Nicholls to enjoy their bush league for a bit longer, at Collision Course they’ll see them in the pro’s and they’ll wish them the best in their future endeavours.

Storm takes the mic and says the letters EPW stood before TMDK were even an idea in Mikey’s head, so while Mikey might be a TMDK brother, EPW is a family, and at Collision Course Davis and Mikey will show The Untouchables the past and the future.

NOTE: EPW have uploaded this match to YouTube for free! Go watch it!

James Hartness vs “The Fremantle Alpha” Taylor King

We don’t get a great explanation of why this match is happening, but we are told that King had an excellent 2022. As he enters the ring and poses, Hartness attacks to the boos of the crowd.

They brawl in the outside and as they re-enter King has the better of the exchange. As Hartness turns things around, he’s commentating and talking smack to the crowd with everything that he does. Such basic heel work, but it makes me so happy every time I see someone do it well!

King ends up walking through punches and a headbutt, and Hartness hits a powerbomb that I think King was meant to escape. Hartness follows up with a piledriver, but King kicks out at two. Hartness takes time arguing with the ref and gets rolled up for two, but he quickly has King hung up in the corner delivering boots. After avoiding an attempted avalanche piledriver King delivers a powerbomb out of the corner and that’s enough for three.

There wasn’t a hell of a lot to this match, and we weren’t really told why it was happening. But move-wise King looks really good, and personality/crowd wise I really enjoyed Hartness’ stylings. The verbal side of being a heel should be so easy, yet it’s still so fun to watch when someone is doing it well.

Winner: Taylor King

Two and a Half Wrestlers (Bobby Marshall & Dan Moore w/ Jesse Lambert) vs The Hiit Squad (Mikey Broderick & Lucas Fantasia)

Fantasia and Moore kick us off with some mat work as the commentators explain the importance of this match in establishing tag title contention.

As Marshall and Broderick are quickly tagged in Mikey goes to some of the “Squat” schtick, but after a couple of squats Fantasia is back and is getting the hell kicked out of him by Marshall. A couple of slams and an assisted dropkick and Fantasia is being dominated.

Two and a Half Men are cutting off Fantasia and frequently tagging in and out, but a kick to the jaw is enough to turn it around and Broderick is a house of fire. He dumps Marshall over the top rope to the floor, then launches his tag partner over the top rope into his opponents with a squat slam. Marshall is returned to the ring where he quickly flips the momentum and stacks Mikey up with a powerbomb for two.

The match finishes with Mikey coming off the top rope with a splash to Marshall with Fantasia getting the pin.

This match was a bit strange – it was like they had all this stuff they wanted to do, but only half the time they needed to do it. We saw very quick changes in momentum with neither team sustaining long periods of offence, so it didn’t really tell a story.

Winners: The Hiit Squad

Two and a Half Men take the mic and are trying to convince Jesse Lambert that Amber doesn’t care about him. When Moore accuses him of acting like a child, Lambert says he’s not a child, that he could be a champ, that Amber believes in him, and that “maybe Two and a Half Wrestlers should just be One and a Half Wrestlers.” (This popped me!)

We then get a backstage promo with Lambert where Amber interrupts. Lambert tries to say that he’s committed to the Untouchables and TMDK, while Amber tells him “that was actually the last thing I wanted.”

EPW/SHWA Heavyweight Title Unification Match: Chris Target (SHWA Champion) vs “The Outlaw” Julian Ward (EPW Champion)

Chris Target unfortunately enters to Kanye West, an anti-semite artist we should’ve left in pre-pandemic times.

As Ward enters the commentators put him over as a fighting champion, having defended the belt on five occasions to now. I’m excited to watch him, he’s a guy whose matches I seek out as much as possible.

Target attacks as Ward takes off his jacket. After some shots in the corner he throws him to the outside, but Ward is able to take over for some walk-and-brawl. As they return to the ring though, Target kicks the rope into Ward’s junk, and he’s heeling it up a treat. Ward fires up though and starts delivering strikes to Target who is hung up in the ropes, and eventually drops to the floor. It’s a rough looking spot where he nearly drops on his head, yet it’s a spot that I suspect is a regular part of his arsenal, cos it looked so natural.

As Ward chases him, Target tries to escape through the crowd but is cut off. He takes a few chops on the outside, and Ward gives him a couple more on the inside for good measure. He follows up with a backbreaker for two.

As Target sells the back, Ward lifts him into a fireman’s carry, but is interrupted by SHWA’s Elijah Henry, introduced as part of “Team Target” who jumps on the ring apron to distract Ward. Target capitalises with a superkick to the back of Ward’s head.

Target delivers a neck crank and an elbow before delivering shoulders, chops and a knee strike in the corner. He goes to the outside and delivers a kick to Ward’s head, which is up against the ringpost as Ward lays prone in the ring. Target takes too long appreciating his work with the crowd though, and Ward cuts him off with boots and rolls Target into a single-leg crab.

Target escapes and we reset, with Target indicating he wants to superplex Ward into the crowd. Ward cuts him off with repeated slaps to the mouth, and Ward delivers a superplex of his own from the top rope to the middle of the ring.

The double count gets to six, and both men start trading strikes on their knees. They make their way to their feet and the strikes get harder with Ward coming out on top. He delivers a splash and a back body drop before hitting a huge lariat. We then get “The Dux Brothers/The Black Mamba” – who I’m not familiar with – who attack the referee and Ward. After beating down Ward they revive the ref as Target covers, but it’s only enough for two.

The Brothers return but end up taking each other out, and Target delivers a nut shot followed by a belt shot to Ward. A slow count from a still-deceased ref, and Ward escapes at the last moment. Target is distracted by the ref taking the belt and removing it, and Ward hits a Stirling Brick Slam – a urinage – for a long two count.

Ward’s still knackered though, and Target delivers a lariat and superkick combo for a long two. Target resorts to repeated slaps, but Ward manages to recover enough to hit a pair of lariats for the three-count.

This was really good, and really hard-hitting, and I thought Target was really impressive. The finish came a bit quickly – I would’ve loved another 5 minutes to “the stretch” – but I really enjoyed it.

Winner and NEEEW UNIFIED EPW/SHWA Champion: Julian Ward

After the match Michael Morleone’s music hits and he and CJL start beating down Ward. Commentary is unsure whether he’s cashing in his title opportunity, but CJL raises the trophy to indicate that he is.

EPW/SHWA Unified Championship Match: Julian Ward (c) v Michael Morleone

The bell rings, Morleone hits a choke bomb, but Ward kicks out at two. Morleone is in disbelief, and ducks a desperation lariat attempt from Ward before delivering a second choke bomb for three.

Winner and NEEEW EPW/SHWA Unified Champion: Michael Morleone

As Morelone celebrates Taylor King arrives to attack but Morleone quickly escapes and the show comes to a close.
Julian Ward announced soon after Goldrush that he was re-locating to North America. PWDownunder wishes Julian the best of luck!

Final Thoughts: I really liked this show. We got a really, really great tag match between Davis Storm/Mikey Nicholls and The Pulse, and the main event was also really good, with Morleone’s shock title win a good cliffhanger ending. 

Watching The Untouchables is always a pleasure as well, and has me excited to see them live this weekend.

And as I say all the time, a 2 hour 20 minute stream (with the intermission edited out) is just a great show length for local wrestling. Rarely do you have enough really top shelf talent to pad out epic cards, nor is there the opportunity to build enough in-depth storylines to carry epic shows. This was the perfect show length.

How to watch: EPW’s shows are streamed through Vimeo, with individual shows available to rent for around $2, or to buy for $3. You can also subscribe for unlimited streaming for $9 a month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *