Melbourne City Wrestling’s Ballroom Brawl is one of the big annual events of Australian wrestling, and we were excited to be part of a packed house for a hot show last night!
We kick off with a Fusion pre-show match between Ryan Rapid and Blake Malik, who both hail from PCW. To be honest I was buying beer and chatting in the foyer, but Ryan Rapid won a pretty short match.
Then at 7.35pm, we go live… kind of. This was the second show in a row that MCW had gone back to a delayed stream on Fite TV – it was for the best here. We saw the MCW intro with no sound, then saw half of a video for the event with no sound – then the lights flickered a bit, and we were told there would be a delay due to some production issues. Not an ideal way to start the show, but much better than if they were live on Fite!
After the false start, we’re properly underway at 7.46pm, when they replay the opening videos and introduce the first match.
“The Wandering Soul” Jimmy Townsend vs “Champ Champ” Nick Armstrong
Both men lost Ballroom Brawl qualifying matches during the High Stakes show, but were granted a second chance opportunity here. While I generally loathe companies ignoring their own stipulations, it was hard to argue with the decision to grant both men another opportunity when you heard the crowd reaction, as Townsend from Sydney and Armstrong from Adelaide both popped a hot crowd like crazy in both their second respective MCW appearances.
This was a really fun back and forth match, with Armstrong again starring through his character work, his arguing with children in the crowd, and his excellent ring work.
He loses here when Townsend hits a top rope moonsault to his standing opponent, and MCW GM Rocky Menero informs us that because Armstrong lost again, his “loser leaves town” stipulation from High Stakes still stands, and security drags him out through the crowd.
This was a really good opener between two guys that the crowd were keen to get behind and elevate. To be honest I’m not sure it mattered who was in this spot, but these are the two lucky beneficiaries, cos both came away from this looking a million bucks.
Winner: “The Wandering Soul” Jimmy Townsend
The Parea (Eli Theseus & Gabriel Aeros) vs The VeloCities (Jude London & Paris de Silva)
The Parea are our effective champs in waiting, but the tag titles have kind of been tied up with champs Tommy Knight and Slex in the main event.
The VeloCities are Australia’s best tag team though, so this is a pretty good placeholder match! Especially with a little backstory behind it – on night 1 of the PWA vs MCW Colosseum tournament in October 2022 The Parea won a tag team turmoil gauntlet match by pinning The VeloCities in a bit of a messy schmoz that looked accidental, but created a cool opportunity for a payoff.
This was that payoff – the match between Australia’s best two locally-based tag teams that we’ve been waiting for since October. They didn’t disappoint. We got that typical Parea story of the crazy, big, athletic psychos who will do anything to win, versus that typical VeloCities story of high-flying athleticism and an incredibly believable heat spot – all with a crowd that was growing increasingly hot at this stage, and elevating the hell out of everything.
The finish comes with London kicking out of a Magic Killer. Aeros catches de Silva on a dive, then loses his mind and punishes him on the outside, wrecking him against the barricade, and with the ref distracted Theseus grabs a gold chain and hits London with it. Aeros jumps back in the ring, and The Parea hit their Hart Attack/dropkick finisher for a pretty strong, albeit tainted win.
This was very, very good, with quite being great – I think/hope that’s deliberate though. Once The Parea have the belts I’d love to see a proper 6-12 month feud between The Parea and The VeloCities over the tag titles.
Winners: The Parea (Eli Theseus & Gabriel Aeros)
Barry “Lucky” O’Leary enters the stage – this is his main show debut – and he introduces himself while pouring water on himself, and… hoo boy…
He wants a warm up before the Ballroom Brawl, which he is granted by his mystery opponent.
Barry “Lucky” O’Leary vs Mikey Broderick
This was Mikey’s first appearance with MCW since last year’s Ballroom Brawl – I don’t understand it, he’s over like gangbusters. The crowd loves to get into the whole SQUAT gimmick.
We get a short match here with Mikey working his squats, before he wins with a top rope elbow.
Winner: Mikey Broderick
Next up his the hype video for the title match, with Tommy noting that he was ready to taste his own blood.
We get super, super special ring introductions with announcer Lindsay running down both men’s career accolades – and again mentioning Tommy’s willingness to taste his own blood.
MCW Heavyweight Title Match: Buddy Matthews (c) vs Tommy Knight
This is Buddy’s first title defence after beating Mitch Waterman at “The House Always Wins” earlier this year. Tommy is his first challenger by virtue of beating Waterman, Slex and Mick Moretti in a first contender elimination match at Blood in the Water, and subsequently defending that spot against The Parea’s Eli Theseus at High Stakes.
Buddy comes out with his MCW Title as well as his AEW World Trios Title, so that was pretty cool.
As soon as the intros are done, the bell rings, and Tommy charges at Buddy. He goes full hoss off the bat, beating the hell out of Buddy, almost winning the perfect chess game, getting a near fall after literally four moves. Tommy follows this up by dragging Buddy to the outside and whipping him into a couple of barricades, hard enough to cause some substantial bends!
Tommy looked a million bucks in this match, dominating the early stages, and telling a story where he was winning a power vs power match, with Buddy unable to hoist Tommy up for his big moves.
Knight cops a real bad cut under the eye, which given its location had to be a hardway cut, but man it fed into that pre-match promo brilliant.
Buddy ends up catching Knight in a Death Valley Driver for his first successful power move of the match, but Knight throws Matthews off the cover and follows up with a lariat and a brain buster… which Buddy kicks out of at one.
The crowd is going ape-turds by now as Tommy kicks out of a curb stomp… but it’s the last stand as Matthews retains in a classic that goes straight onto the December re-watch list of Australian Match of the Year Contenders.
Winner and STILL MCW Heavyweight Champion: Buddy Matthews
Post match the two men shake hands and Tommy leaves to a rapturous applause.
Next up is the intermission, which we were told would go for 20 minutes, and ended up going for a bit over 30. I loathe that, but I’ll give it a pass here because I strongly suspect that they were still working on the technical issues that delayed the start of the show.
Women’s Title vs Hair match: Delta (c) vs Jarvis
This match was set up following Delta’s match with Cherry Stephens, where Jarvis disrespected Delta by charging past her on the stage. She wasn’t having it, and later interrupted Jarvis’ challenge for the Intercommonwealth Title.
This match was originally set for High Stakes – we didn’t really get an explanation of why it was delayed. And my understanding of the match pre-High Stakes was that Delta would lose the title to Vacant, not to Jarvis, but that changed ahead of Ballroom Brawl as well.
As we get the entrances, it’s so clear that Delta is by far and away the most over person in the company. In the years that I’ve been attending MCW she might be the most over person they’ve ever had.
So what happened here was a little strange. After originally hightailing it from the ring to avoid Delta, she ends up catching him in the ring and repeats her F5 attempts. As she’s finally successful in hoisting Jarvis into position, he rakes her eyes, rolls her up, and puts both his feet on the top rope for the three-count, and we have a new women’s champion.
Conceptually, I don’t hate having Jarvis as women’s champion, assuming that it’s going to a device to introduce and elevate some women onto the roster. Whether that’s the plan though isn’t entirely clear…
Winner and NEEEW Women’s Champion: Jarvis
2023 Ballroom Brawl Match
It’s tough to commentate a rumble match from the live crowd – so I have entrants and eliminations, but notes are sparse.
#1 – “The Taiga” Tome Filip
#2 – Nick Legstrong
After Nick Armstrong twice failed to qualify for the Ballroom Brawl, we’re introduced to Nick Legstrong, who has a mullet, a moustache, and “Legstrong” written on tape stuck to his trunks. Amazing! The match obviously starts by working around this bit of comedy before Filip rips Legstrong’s wig off revealing… NICK ARMSTRONG!
#3 – Emman Azman
#4 – Mikey Broderick
Emman is a house of fire and Broderick is hitting squat slams – Mikey doesn’t last long though, as Legstrong eliminates him.
1st eliminated – Mikey Broderick
#5 – Jake Taylor
I’m fairly certain that this is an MCW debut for NZ Dojo/New Japan TAMASHII product in Jake Taylor. He looks huge compared to everyone else, but he’s back to doing that young lion thing where he wears black trunks… and that’s it, cos he has “earned” the rest of his gear yet.
Taylor comes in and just works side headlocks with everyone, which is an odd way to introduce yourself to a new crowd in a rumble match.
#6 – Gabriel Aeros
Aeros comes in and starts wailing on Tome.
#7 – Barry “Lucky” O’Leary
O’Leary enters the ring, and wants to do the full entrance with the water. He catches his water bottle from ringside security, takes off the lid… and Tome dumps him over the top rope.
2nd eliminated – Barry “Lucky” O’Leary
#8 – Eli Theseus
Theseus charges to the ring to save Aeros from being eliminated by Tome Filip.
#9 – “The Phoenix” Stevie Filip
Stevie enters the ring with a picture-perfect Phoenix Splash to Jake Taylor
Stevie and Tome work together to take out The Parea before eliminating Taylor and Legstrong.
3rd eliminated – Jake Taylor
4th eliminated – Nick Legstrong
The Filips, who haven’t teamed together in MCW since September 2022, and who’ve both re-debuted as singles characters, hug and celebrate their teamwork… and are immediately dumped out by The Parea.
5th & 6th eliminated – Stevie Filip & Tome Filip
#10 – “The Business” Slex
One half of the tag team champions, Slex immediately sets upon The Parea, hitting a huge double vertical suplex.
#11 – “Groovy Gladiator” Jude London
Slex interrupted by Jude London, who enters with “Phenomenal Forearm” off the top rope. The Parea then go to work on him, including hitting their tag team finisher.
#12 – Robbie Thorpe
Another debutant, another extremely good looking character out of PCW. Thorpe has worked bits and pieces in some other Melbourne promotions, so it’s cool to see him get this opportunity. He kicks off with a tower of doom spot involving The Parea, Emman and Jude London.
#13 – “The Artist” Lockie
Another debutant – he enters the stage to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and does the full dance. He enters the ring, and Thorpe immediately throws him out.
7th eliminated – “The Artist” Lockie
Lockie wasn’t introduced until after his elimination, and it was impossible to hear – so I don’t know whether he was announced as The Artist or as Lockie.
#14 – “Spartan Spirit” Paris de Silva
We get the inevitable face off between The Parea and The VeloCities, revisiting the match from earlier tonight. As they take each other out, Robbie Thorpe attempts to finally take off his jacket when Slex throws him over the top.
8th eliminated – Robbie Thorpe
#15 – Jarvis
Jarvis enters the ring, and never takes off the Women’s Title that he’s wearing, which was funny.
As Emman is working to get rid of de Silva, Jarvis sneaks up and throws a devastated Emman to the floor.
9th eliminated – Emman Azman
#16 – Delta
Jarvis goes from taunting Emman, to almost eliminating de Silva, to crapping himself when he sees Delta and jumping over the top rope to eliminate himself. Delta is incredulous as she scowls at him.
10th eliminated – Jarvis
There’s still no doubt she’s the most over person in the company, her reactions here were even better than they were for her match.
She’s dishing out F5s allround, and Slex poses in the middle of the ring with her, raising her arm – Delta responds by hitting him with an F5. As she’s distracted by her own work, Edward Dusk appears from nowhere and eliminates her. Then his music plays, so he was next in, but he’s popped out early to eliminate Delta.
11th eliminated – Delta
#17 – Edward Dusk
Dusk grabs chairs from under the ring and starts piffing them at people. He also DDTs Aeros through the seat of a chair, breaking it clean off.
#18 – “The Wandering Soul” Jimmy Townsend
As Dusk faces off with Townsend he grabs a cookie sheet – and Townsend retrieves a cookie sheet of his own from his backpack. Dusk then grabs a chain, with Townsend finding one of those in his backpack. Townsend briefly gets the better of the exchange, but it’s Dusk who gets the near-elimination.
#19 – Carlo Cannon
We get a shock appearance from former MCW Heavyweight Champion and 2013 Ballroom Brawl Winner Carlo Cannon, who we haven’t seen in MCW for 8 years. He’s out hyping the crowd, and plenty of people seem to know who he is and are happy to see him, which is awesome.
He enters the ring with a sweet top rope dropkick to Theseus.
#20 – “The Rapscallion” Mick Moretti
Moretti’s music plays, but he doesn’t immediately appear. Three clowns enter through the crowd and climb into the ring. They surround the remaining entrants Shield-style, then enter and wipe out the field.
At that point Mick Moretti enters the stage looking like hell – he’s wearing tatty old clothes and bandaging that’s falling off. As Moretti enters the ring the three clowns point at the screen.
It’s garbled, and in the audience the audio isn’t good enough that we can hear anything, which is a bummer, cos I think it was important. There’s a masked figure speaking on the screen, who is revealed to be Moretti himself.
The clowns leave, having sucked all the life out of the match, and Moretti goes nuts, showing a much more aggressive attitude. He gets the better of Dusk in a face off, assaults London, then does the same to de Silva when he comes to the rescue.
Moretti then faces off with Jimmy Townsend, which is interesting – they won the PWA Premiership as a tag team a couple of weeks ago (see our live review from PWA Requiem for a Tag Team Dream), and notionally, given that PWA and MCW occasionally co-promote, this should be part of MCW canon. Nothing is made clear either way, but Moretti is the one who successfully eliminates Townsend.
12th eliminated – Jimmy Townsend
Mick then attempts to eliminate London, leaving him draped across the top rope, and Moretti just throws de Silva on top of him, eliminating both.
13th & 14th eliminated – Jude London & Paris de Silva
Dusk eliminates Cannon in a spot that was not the focus of the match when it happened, so that was a little strange. (That’s to say that I missed it!)
15th eliminated – Carlo Cannon
The Parea go to work on Slex, but he avoids an attack and manages to double clothesline both men over the top people.
16th & 17th eliminated – Eli Theseus & Gabriel Aeros
We’re down to Slex, Moretti, and my pre-match pick in Edward Dusk.
We get a fairly long exchange between the three, featuring finishers, near-eliminations and some top rope moves.
We end up with all three men on the ring apron outside the ropes battling before Slex falls back inside the ring. With Dusk trying to deliver a piledriver to Moretti, Slex revives long enough to hit him with the Slexecution, which knocks Dusk off the apron but leaves Moretti standing.
18th eliminated – Edward Dusk
We get another relatively long exchange here between the final two, with spots where both men threw their opponent over the top rope and thought they’d won, only for their opponent to rescue themself.
Moretti also has Slex in a Dragon Sleeper on the apron, but Slex manages to fight his way back into the ring and dump Moretti for the win.
As a rumble match, I thought this was pretty good. There was some good tag team storyline development, and the exchanges when we got to the final three were excellent.
BUT – we had a bunch of debutants, people who are brand new to MCW, and people who we haven’t seen for a while. It ended up being a lot of people who 1) the crowd isn’t currently invested in, and 2) don’t have any chance of winning. I really like rumble surprises, but it’s a negative sum game if people don’t know who they are. It just sucks the life out of the end of the countdown, which is the part of the rumble that engages people and gets them involved. Speaking of sucking the life out of the crowd – the clowns and the inaudible promo went down like a bomb.
19th Eliminated – Mick Moretti
Ballroom Brawl Winner: Slex
After the match Rocky Menero comes to congratulate Slex. Slex calls his shot against Buddy Matthews for MCW 13 in November, says he’s going to take the MCW Championship, and calls for Buddy to come and shake his hand to make the match official.
Buddy comes and congratulates Slex, then says “let’s talk truth. The truth is you’re very good, and the people love you.”
Buddy goes onto tell him that he’s achieved nothing. “It’s not your fault – it’s your environment, the Australian wrestling scene. There are all these egos and they have nothing to back it up.”
Buddy says he’s the most humble one in the back, because he’s willing to come back to where it began, and because he’s willing to admit his mistakes,.
He says he made a mistake 10 years ago when he left MCW in the hands that he did. He says that MCW is on life support, he needs to correct these issues, and so he’s going to do the only thing he can – he’s going to kill what he created.
As he leaves the ring, he says “when I said I need to correct these issues? That starts now” – Matthews then wipes out Rocky with the title belt, leaving him laying.
What an odd show. The first half of this show was outstanding – this crowd was into Townsend and Armstrong, the tag match was really good, and Matthews vs Knight was incredible.
Then we came back to the second half, and the Delta/Jarvis thing was super short, it wasn’t the result anyone expected, and it was an odd way to treat the company’s biggest star. And as I mentioned, the Ballroom Brawl probably featured too many entrants that people aren’t invested in as wrestlers or as potential winners.
You can definitely do this stuff – Carlo Cannon got a pop, and Lockie’s “Thriller” dance was good fun – but there was too much of it here I thought.
I’m also not sure about the winner. Slex is perennially over with MCW crowds, and this was undoubtedly a popular win. I also think the storyline of two originals, one back to kill the company, one defending what he helped maintain, is a really cool story – but Slex didn’t need to win Ballroom Brawl to get there.
I don’t have an enormous problem with the result, I just wonder if it wouldn’t have meant more to have Delta or Edward Dusk win Ballroom Brawl and hold onto the title opportunity until next year.
State of MCW – July 2023
I don’t presume to think many people care about my opinions on a local wrestling company, hence I’m including this “state of MCW” commentary as part of a review. We’re four events into the year, and it appears there are only two remaining, so it’s a good time to do it.
Firstly, this relative lack of shows is bumming me out. We’ve gone from around ten shows a year to six. It makes it really difficult to tell intricate stories, because you aren’t running enough shows, and to do so relies on social media that not everyone uses. I’m not sure whether the reduced number of shows is due to them not currently having the belt, but when shows are sold out to the point that people were almost hanging off the roofs on Saturday night, it’s hard to imagine why you wouldn’t run more shows.
I continue to be troubled by the lack of women that MCW are booking. Again, we’ve had four shows this year – in terms of women booked, they’ve included Delta, Delta and Cherry Stephens, no one, and then Delta. That’s not good enough. There’s way too much amazing female-identifying talent in Australia for the country’s biggest wrestling company to continuously ignore them. It’s getting to a point where I believe the Australian wrestling community needs to react to this, because I don’t think it’s acceptable. You could potentially make a similar argument around diversity (or lack of) more broadly in MCW.
As mentioned, conceptually I don’t have a problem with Jarvis winning the women’s title – if it’s a device to introduce and elevate more women in the company. But it was absolutely noteworthy that Jarvis eliminated a shattered Emman from the Ballroom Brawl, which makes me concerned that they may just unify the Intercommonwealth Title with the Women’s title. I would be really angry if they got rid of women (apart from Delta) altogether.
I thought the rumble highlighted the lack of an ongoing MCW roster at the moment. Seeing so many people who we’ve never seen before was stark. I’ve seen a lot of these people elsewhere and know they’re talented, that isn’t the issue – the issue is having literally half a rumble full of new guys, part timers and surprise returnees. Again, it probably goes back to the reduced number of shows – who are we supposed to get behind? It’s hard to know, cos if someone misses one show they go four months without appearing for an MCW crowd.
I was really happy that the visual presentation had improved 100% from High Stakes to Ballroom Brawl, but the audio presentation is a pretty major concern when you’re trying to use videos to tell stories and the crowd can’t understand what’s being said. I didn’t understand a thing that was happening in the Moretti video, and happening after he was introduced as number 20 in the Ballroom Brawl makes me suspect it was pretty major.
The final point deserves to be a rousing positive, and that is to say that the MCW crowd is incredible at the moment. It’s hard to imagine a more engaged, noisier crowd of regulars at any indy wrestling show across the world. When you can’t hear idiots trying to get themselves over, the crowd is one of the great stories of MCW.
How to watch?
As of High Stakes, MCW are now streaming their shows on delay through Fite+ – so you no longer have to pay $15 if you’re a Fite+ subscriber, but they aren’t live. Of course, this was for the best at Ballroom Brawl given the technical issues that delayed the start of the show.
Fite+ subscribers can view MCW events at https://www.fite.tv/vl/pc/melbourne-city-wrestling/australia/
Follow MCW on Twitter to learn about upcoming shows at https://twitter.com/mcitywrestling
Tickets to future shows, including MCW Ascension on 9 September, can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/melbourne-city-wrestling-27670784045