WSW Full Throttle: Queensland vs The World Review

WSW Full Throttle: Queensland vs The World

Written By: Eli Conroy-de Voss

The Return to Queensland:

World Series Wrestling is a very special company among the Australian wrestling scene as they offer something not many other companies do: they bring the best of the world to our table. For years now, WSW have been leading tours around the country, pairing the biggest names on the American independents against the strongest crop of talent Australia has to offer. This year alone, they ran two seperate trips down under, their most recent, Full Throttle, featuring names like “Speedball” Mike Bailey, Eric Young, TJP, Matt Cardona, Cassie Lee and countless other stars Australian fans rarely have a chance to see live. What made the Full Throttle tour so exciting to me, however, was that for the first time in six years, WSW were returning to Queensland. The last time they’d toured down this end of the country, it was a one-off show, which is more remembered now for a segment involving Austin Aries, in which he verbally trashed the ring for being cheap and stiff, live in front of the crowd. That moment may have been a big factor in WSW not returning, but it’s also played into a stigma around the Queensland territory that persists to this day.

Despite containing Australia’s third largest city and wrestling scene, Queensland is constantly being overlooked in favour of companies and wrestlers from other states. In the lead up to this tour, WSW were regularly putting out videos on their social media to hype up the talent that would be participating on these shows. This didn’t only apply to their foreign imports but to the local talent as well. The likes of Adam Brooks, The Untouchables, Jack Bonza and more all got little videos to hype up their involvement, but when it came to the Queensland portion of the tour, there was next to nothing there. Four local wrestlers were announced to make appearances but only on their personal accounts, with many of them releasing videos to hype up the show that weren’t promoted by the company themselves. I’m not trying to knock World Series Wrestling for this; I’m simply demonstrating how much of an afterthought Queensland wrestling has become in the modern wrestling scene, which is what made this show so important. On October 12 2023, countless Australian fans filed into the Eatons Hill Grand Ballroom, Brisbane, and proceeded to blow the roof off. The atmosphere was electric, everyone was having the time of their lives and for the first time in a long, long while, Queensland wrestling got its spotlight.

Before the Storm:

I’ll break this show down in a moment, but first I wanted to touch on just how excellent the entire WSW crew was for this show. The venue they chose was absolutely gorgeous with one of the best ring and lighting setups I’ve seen in this state. The production team were all on their game too — from the camera crew, to the sound team, to the referees, commentary and ring announcer. Everyone was giving it their all. WSW has a reputation for being a very fun and welcoming place to work, and you can see that in the talent they choose to employ. Every single wrestler who held a meet and greet was nothing but kind and conversational, and you could see that enthusiasm mirrored in every person who walked through that door. These are fans who don’t normally get to meet a lot of notable wrestling personalities. Not a lot of wrestlers or companies tour in Australia, and when they do, they’re on the opposite side of the continent. For many, this was a once in a lifetime meeting, and the wrestlers all did amazing to make it feel worth it.  There was an atmosphere building before the show even started that only intensified once the show got under way.

The show consisted of seven matches of ranging quality: the first half represented an excellent showcase of wrestling skill and ability, while the latter was a far lighter, more fan-oriented experience. Neither of these are necessarily bad — there was only one truly awful match on this show, and we’ll get to that later — but it depends what you’re wanting out of this experience. Matches that rely on character work and crowd interaction are very fun to experience live but don’t always translate as well to the broadcasts at home. Luckily, there’s a lot of matches here I think would translate very well to a streaming audience too, because when good wrestlers want to work, they absolutely kill it.

The First Half:

The show opened proper with a match for the WSW Australian Championship. Going into this show, there was only one match announced on the card, which was TJP vs Mike Bailey vs Brisbane’s own Bobby Bishop, and yet for whatever reason, Bob was not involved in this match. Honestly, with the benefit of hindsight, I think that might have been for the better. Speedball and TJP already fought once this year in the Best of the Super Jrs tournament, and now they had a chance to renew that rivalry for the Australian Championship. Even in a smaller venue, on a smaller stage, both men still absolutely busted their asses and held nothing back. Bailey has been a favourite of mine for a while now for his sheer consistency in-ring, and TJP has been a wonderful inaugural champion for WSW. Together, they produced a match you could easily find in any promotion the world over. There was a strong mix of clever chain and submission grappling, lethal strikes and cruiserweight acrobatics. The match escalated in tension very well and by the final moments I think a lot of people were convinced that we might see a brand new champion. Ultimately, the match fell back in TJP’s favour, but nobody really lost here. Both men were celebrated by the crowd after leaving an excellent match to kick things off.

Sadly, the same could not be said for the second match of the night: Lucille Brawl vs Harley Cameron. I mentioned there was one notably poor match on this card, and you probably could have picked this out from an overview. Lucille, for all the good she has done for Queensland wrestling, is not one of the better female wrestlers on the scene right now. She seemed like a very last minute addition, and I commend her for that, but there are other women’s wrestlers like Kyla Knight, Harper Sky or Lil Marz who I wish had gotten the opportunity. Cameron, despite being from a much larger company and showing a lot of potential, is still very green. She’s only 17 matches into her career, which leaves a lot of room for future development but also isn’t a great mark of quality right now. Between the pair, a lot of their offence was very rudimentary, the execution could be quite sloppy and their strikes felt as if they never connected, which was especially damning after Mike Bailey had just kicked holes in TJP’s chest. It was not fair on these two to have to try and follow that match up, but what they offered here was not going to standout, no matter where on the card it landed.

Thankfully, things rebounded pretty nicely, as Bobby finally got his match. Instead of a triple threat title match, though, he would be facing Ace Austin of the ABC. Ace was always very talented before joining the Bullet Club, but he seems to have fully found himself now. And it may surprise you to learn that, despite Austin flying the Bullet Club flag, the crowd was very much behind the home-town hero, Bobby Bishop. Bob’s been a fixture of the Queensland scene for a while now and has become one of its true standouts in recent years. Many in the crowd were already familiar with him and those who weren’t seemed to get swept up in the hype pretty quickly. That’s great, because this is honestly the best I’ve seen Bobby wrestle. Ever. Not only was he keeping pace with the cruiserweight standout, but he was matching him hold for hold. They both wrestle very different styles, but they managed to showcase each other’s skills very well here. Their offence was great and the back and forth between them was very strong. It was a really good showcase for one of the brightest young wrestlers in America and one of Queensland’s true modern aces.

And finally, before intermission, we got what is widely considered to be the best match of the night. I’ll let you in on a secret: when I walked into this show, I wanted one match. I wanted to see the Parea vs Top Tier for the WSW Tag-Team Titles. The Parea are far and away the hottest tag team in Australia right now. They’re an insanely talented unit across the board, with outstanding charisma, athleticism and character work that has made them tag champs in at least four other companies as of writing this. They have been chasing those titles since 2018, and only a few nights prior, they finally won them. Top Tier, meanwhile, have become the most dominant faction in the Brisbane area. Mitch Ryder and Tim Hayden were two products of the Fale Dojo who have both become standouts in their own right, holding gold in multiple different companies. Earlier this year, they faced the Parea in a short match for the newly coveted OPW Tag-Team Championships but came up short. Now they had a chance at redemption. Everything was perfect as the Brisbane natives took the ring to answer the Parea’s open challenge… Only for Eric Young’s music to hit. The 25-year vet sauntered down the ring and announced that, since his match had been cancelled, he thought that maybe he’d challenge for the belts instead with the help of Frankie Kazarian. The pair were former TNA Tag-Team Champions for less than a day and saw this as a chance to reunite the band. So the match was made a triple threat between all three for the tag titles. I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t disappointed to lose the one on one match I’d wanted, but it’s hard to really complain when Eric and Kaz are the ones involved and the match itself is this bloody good. The Parea are excellent heels, and there’s a lot of strong psychology incorporated early into the match before Tim and Mitch get a stretch to just showcase what they’re made of. Team TNA mix really well with both teams and the action just keeps flowing for the entire match. The crowd was notably very on board for this bout, particularly towards the end when EY and Kaz began taking back control. In a move that shocked the building, the old guard won, reuniting as tag team champions for the first time in fifteen years, a reign which would last — quiet poetically — for just one day. The match had left everyone in such high spirits that when the announcer called for an intermission, the crowd actively booed. Everyone was so on board and so pumped up, they just wanted to go see the show continue. And that leads me to my biggest issue with Full Throttle as a show…

I mentioned earlier that this was a show of two halves, and the downside to that is the order in which these halves played out. These first few matches set the bar very high, getting the crowd to the edge of their seats and lighting the arena on fire, so it’s a bit deflating that the show never reaches that peak again. Nothing that follows is bad, but it feels like we’ve hit the conclusion half way through the show and now everything afterwards is just winding down. I think WSW could have benefited from reorganising this show to get a better mix of lighthearted fun and general work-rate throughout. As is though, the crowd were still very excited coming back from halftime, and that enthusiasm was only coaxed by the first match back.

The Second Half:

The second half of the show starts with a match that honestly should have opened instead. With Brian Cage out of action for whatever reason, it seems WSW got his old tag partner, Flip Gordon, to fill in at the last moment for a surprise match with Chris Bey. Both men are insanely talented — Flip is literally a human spring — and most of the match simply involved them showing the crowd what they could do. It’s a fun watch and the arena was loud with “yeah” and “2sweet” chants that kept the room buzzing at all points, but it lacked the tension of the first couple of matches that made it feel less like a competition and more like a showcase. Once again, really good for getting the fans back into the flow of things, but sadly it’s the last majorly notable match on the card.

Yeet Stevens vs Erick Redbeard is a match that sounds really solid on paper. Erick is a notorious giant in the modern landscape of wrestling and Yeet is one of the most popular and prominent big men on the Brisbane circuit. For whatever reason though, the promoter chose to present Yeet as a cowardly heel who was tired of Queensland being overlooked. On a show where just about every other QLD talent got an opportunity to show just who they are and what they could do, it was odd seeing Yeet cast in a role that was very against his typing. The match that followed wasn’t anything too exciting either. Erick is one of the better giants in the business right now, and I think he could have worked wonders against a smaller opponent like B-Lars, Zeke Andino or even Renegade, but the hoss vs hoss battle left a lot of sags and slumps in the match that made it feel like a bit of a drag. It wasn’t a high note to leave things on before the main event, but the show at least ended in a fine enough manner.

The main event saw a mixed gender tag team match of the WSW World Champions, Shaun Spears and Cassie Lee, against the team of Matt Cardona and his new heavy, Lena Kross. Injuries seem to have had a big impact on this tour, with Brian Cage having already been replaced earlier in the night — but the upside to this situation is that, with Steph DeLander’s unfortunate absence, Lena Kross got another opportunity to shine. Between her work in NSW and her stints in Japan, she’s really proven herself to be one of the hottest women’s wrestlers in the country, and it was great to see her receive main event billing alongside three massive names in the sport. This stipulation can be very difficult when promoters don’t want to have men and women fight on an even playing field, so a lot of this match is more based around crowd reactions and character work than actual fighting. Thankfully, it’s still quite enjoyable regardless. Cardona tried to hit Cassie with a low blow, which caused the crowd to call him a virgin. That back and forth between the performers and audience added a lot to this. It was a very fun-centric match, like most of the second half, which works great in a live venue but doesn’t always translate to uploads at home. The match ended with Cardona scoring the pinfall over Cassie, which I guess makes him eligible for a women’s title match now, and after the match, Shaun Spears took his frustrations out by piledriving Lena on a chair, which was a very odd choice considering he’d just spent an entire match barely being able to hit her. As a whole, it was a fun match. Not the strongest way to end the show, but a nice note to send things home on. My only wish is that Cass and Spears had been the ones to send the show home, instead of the ring announcer.

Go-Home Takeaway:

At the end of this all, I climbed into my car and drove home with the simple thought that ‘wrestling truly is amazing.’ The entire night had surpassed my expectations and the experience of it all has stuck with me, even days after. From getting the chance to shake hands with wrestlers I never thought I’d meet, to seeing local favourites show out on a big stage, to just getting to enjoy a really good match, the show was easy to consume and an absolute treat all the way through. If you’re interested in my overall recommendations, I’d advise checking out Speedball vs TJP, the WSW Tag-Team title match and maybe Bob vs Ace and Bey vs Gordon if they sound like your kind of thing. I’m hoping that after seeing the support fans showed and the effort our wrestlers put in, WSW makes Brisbane a regular stop on their tour. I’ve already mentioned a few local names I’d like to see feature, but the scene still has a lot more amazing talent to offer. The likes of Bojack, Dick Riggs, Trent O’Day, Outback Adam, Moko Kai and so many more would all fit very well on a show like this, which just makes me more excited to see what could happen next year. At the end of the day, pro wrestling is great, Queensland wrestling is alive and there has never been a better time to be a fan.

Just don’t go to Cairns…

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