PWDU Live Review – PWA Colosseum 2023: Night 2 (Sunday 22 October)

We’re back with a “better late than never” review of PWA Colosseum Night 2 (driving to and from Sydney sucks, moving house sucks even more!)

PWA held a meet and greet on the Sunday afternoon that I didn’t attend, but the feedback from the few people I spoke to was just that it didn’t seem like it knew what it was. It was fine for buying merch and maybe getting an autograph, but everything else apparently seemed a little random. Not bad, just random.

And then by the time the doors opened, it was quite a slow moving crowd. Your PWDU correspondent was able to get a cracker front row seat, because the crowd seemed to arrive super late, and surprisingly the Night 2 crowd seemed smaller than Night 1. I’m not sure whether it’s a symptom of Sunday nights in the City in Sydney, or whether Jess Troy is a bigger draw than Zack Sabre Jr!

We start with the Acknowledgement of Country, and we see a video on the screen that was the same as the night before. Then we’re straight into the first of the semi-finals.

Colosseum Semi-Final 1: Mat “Grimm” Basso vs Paris de Silva

It’s noteworthy that both de Silva and Jude London came out to individual music for their round 1 matches, but de Silva is back to the Velocities theme tonight.

Classic big man vs little man fare here with Basso dominating the early phases of the match, leading into a pretty long heat spot, and Basso is dominating more today than he did yesterday against Cherry. De Silva’s strategy is to try hit & runs to chop Basso down, but he’s not powerful enough and not able to retain offence for long enough.

Then de Silva hits an outside-in cutter out of nowhere for a nearfall before Basso again takes over. A brutal running big boot gets a nearfall for Basso and he loses his mind after de Silva kicks out. Basso goes for a chokeslam, but de Silva manages to reverse into a hurricanrana roll-up/West Coast Pop for a three count out of nowhere, having gotten almost no offence in.

This match was just fine. It wasn’t long enough to be offensive, it wasn’t designed to be a classic. It was designed for de Silva to take a beating before fighting onto the final. You’d pretty much forgotten about this match by the time the next one was finished, but that says a lot more about the next match…

Winner: Paris de Silva

Colosseum Semi-Final 2: Jude London vs Zack Sabre Jr

Jude is out first – he’s also out to the Velocities’ music and he’s now seeking to qualify for an all-Velocities Colosseum final.

It was technician vs speed. It was striking vs high flying. ZSJ was a savage, Jude’s selling was off the charts, and God he made the crowd believe.

This match was everything. I can’t describe it to you – our likely Australian Match of the Year can be found on Fite TV, go watch it. Do it now. 

Zack wins with a spinning neckbreaker/Michinoku Driver, and the crowd explodes in the standing ovation that it had been chomping at the bit to give. This was incredible, Jude absolutely hung with ZSJ and looked like a star, but damn it was strangely exhausting! 

I don’t generally subscribe to numerical ratings, nor do I subscribe to the Meltzer scale of giving 5+ stars. With that said, this is the first match I’ve seen live since writing for PWDU that I thought was better than 5 stars.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr

6-pack challenge: David Streamer vs Nathan Pidgeon vs Jay Sorbet vs “Big Brother” Billy Preston vs Ben Braxton vs Caveman Ugg

This was a pretty typical 6-person match with everyone getting a chance to get their stuff in, and everyone getting a chance to fly. The match was really about Braxton vs Ugg, as they continued shaping up to each other and one-upping each other, but barely touching until right up to the end of the match, sans a couple of hoss spots.

We get a silly spot where Streamer rips off the bandage from Aaron Jake biting him last night so he can do his “power point”, which Billy sells by diving off the apron, and is followed up with a sick dive from Braxton. We got a fun spot in the match where Shay Kassidy’s Barnaby Bear does a balcony dive, which is sold by everyone except Ugg, who is in the ring. Ugg goes to pick up Barnaby… and Barnaby starts chewing his face/choking him. Ugg is about to wreck Barnaby, but Streamer rescues him.

We get the elongated Ugg vs Braxton spot at the end of the match – which is really good, and makes me want to see the match. Of course, they don’t give away that result, and everyone enters the ring for one more spot before Ugg gets rid of Braxton, press slams PIdgeon to the outside onto four of his opponents, and plants Sorbet with a piledriver for the three count.

I can usually take or leave these PWA 6-person matches, but this was fun. The Barnaby spot popped the crowd, and the developing storyline of Braxton vs Ugg – which was built really well throughout the match – gave the match a purpose, and was good enough to get me excited for the eventual one-on-one between them.

Winner: Caveman Ugg

Ugg stands in the ring doing the Rogue Army pose before leaving.

Last Man Standing Match: Backman vs Jack Pain w/ Special Guest Referee Gymbro Jessie

This all came together strangely quick. Backpain were the last team eliminated from Night 1’s tag team gauntlet following some miscommunication between them, resulting in Backman attacking his partner. The storyline was furthered at the afternoon’s fan expo when the two had an altercation.

Jessie is out first wearing the green and black stripes, and she doesn’t look happy about it.

Backman comes out looking huge. He swears a lot during the match, which I think is unnecessary – it doesn’t offend me, but Backman is big enough and intimidating enough that he doesn’t need it. Leave the cheap heat for the guys that need it.

I don’t know whether it was exhaustion from the ZSJ vs London match, I don’t know if it was the lack of build, or whether people just weren’t ready for Backpain to break up – but the crowd was out of this really early, perhaps explaining Backman’s swearing (ie. attempting to engage the crowd.) They worked really hard, including a rough looking spear off the stage through a table, but even that barely woke up the crowd.

It took a real sick chop battle, which Jessie sold the hell out of, to wake the crowd up somewhat… just in time for Jessie to step between them and eat a double clothesline from both Pain and Backman.

As Jessie begs Pain to see sense, Backman obtains a chair from the outside. She begs Backman to stop, he hugs her, then he nails her with the chair. He then hits Pain with the chair and the Pounce and calls for another ref, leading to Hannah entering the match.

Pain answers the count, hits a spinebuster and a Batista Bomb, but he can’t capitalise, so he grabs a bit of wood (chipboard) from under the stage. Backman avoids Pain, kicks him the junk, and pounces him through the board.

Then the ending of the match was strange, and not in line with what we know about last man standing matches, as Hannah counts to 8, Backman hits a coast-to-coast drop kick, and Hannah continues the count rather than restarting it, resulting in the 10-count.

Both these guys worked so hard, and this was a really physical match – I think Backman has enormous potential as a singles guy. But for whatever reason the crowd wasn’t into this, I think they were ready for intermission.

Winner: Backman

Post-match, Backman stomps past a now revived Jessie, and as Jack Pain begins to loosen his boots Jessie joins him in the ring. Pain leaves his boots in the ring, applauds the crowd and bows, and it now makes sense why the storyline happened so quickly. Despite not really getting into the match, the crowd absolutely did get into showing its love and appreciation for Jack Pain.

And then it was time for intermission.

Emman Azman, Delta, Cherry Stephens & Jack Bonza vs PWA Tag Team Champions The Joker & the Thief (Mick Moretti & Jimmy Townsend), Soul of PWA Champion The Tuckman and PWA Heavyweight Champion Jessica Troy

Back from intermission with the four first round Colosseum losers vs PWAs four champs, and we start with a pretty funny “everyone but Bonza” chant.

We get Cherry vs Jimmy, then Tuckman vs Emman – who takes a beer from Tuckman that Bonza steals and drinks before pushing Emman out of the ring and hitting Tuckman with the can.

We then get Jess facing off with Bonza, which is significant because Bonza has been part of the story of telling everyone that Jess wasn’t good enough. Bonza bails out though, giving us Jess vs Cherry momentarily – which I think might be the first time they’ve touched in PWA?

Next up it’s Jess vs Delta, who had a great feud in MCW last year, and once Delta leaves the ring Bonza of course takes advantage to attack Jess from behind. Jess leaves the ring and, under PWAs lucha rules, it’s Bonza vs Moretti then Bonza vs Tuckman – it sounds quick because all these exchanges are only lasting 30-45 seconds at most.

The crowd gets on Bonza as he attacks Tuckman, and incidentally chops Emman. Then Tuckman tags in Jess and we finally get the Jess vs Bonza spot, which Jess dominates before tagging in Moretti and Jimmy. They get rid of Bonza, leading to Delta entering the ring and Jimmy and Mick hilariously arguing that the other was the legal man. Delta attacks both of them, followed by Emman and Cherry charging them in the corner twice, before Bonza is fought off both times.

Tuckman wipes out Bonza, celebrates with his opponents before realising they’re on different teams, and eats an F5 from Delta. Emman with a standing sliced bread to Jimmy. Tuckman hits Emman with a springboard cutter from the top rope. Moretti hits Delta with a Death Valley driver. Cherry hits Moretti with a Code Red. Then it’s Jess vs Cherry again, who have a good little exchange before Cherry climbs to the top and is superplexed to the floor by Jimmy on top of a pile of bodies.

It’s Jimmy and Emman with Jimmy trying to hit a moonsault, but Bonza drags Emman out, hits Jimmy with a lariat and his Napalm Thunder Driver for the three-count.

I guess it makes sense that Mick & Jimmy cleaned out the tag division last night, cos the next challenger appears to be the Rogue Army, with Bonza teaming with either Ugg or Bad Luck Fale.

Hopefully the Jess vs Cherry exchanges are leading somewhere, cos I’ve seen that match before and it’s great (and would be even better now); Delta’s enormous popularity will also surely lead to more opportunities with PWA.

Winners: Jack Bonza, Delta, Cherry Stephens & Emman Azman

Live Goober Report with Will Kiedis and Sam Osborne

Kiedis and Osborne are here to present Goober of the Year. They start out with a “we’re having fun, we’re having fun” gag that doesn’t land. Their nominees are Cherry Stephens, DJ BIgg Fudge, Digby (from the band Big Red Fire Truck), Charli Evans, Jessica Troy and… Jada Pinkett-Smith. This segment is dying a death.

They announce Digby as the Goober of the Year, before saying he’s not here. This of course prompts Digby to arrive with the singer from last night’s house band, and after some back and forth we have an impromptu match with surprise returnee Mat Diamond.

Will Kiedis & Sam Osborne vs Digby & Mat Diamond

Digby is well-built, and he’s obviously been prepared to put in some work to get in the ring and look respectable. The crowd doesn’t care.

Kiedis and Osborne start the match in their shirts and slacks, and Digby takes over early on. Mat Diamond enters the match, and he looks as great and as crisp as ever. The crowd is dead though, despite Kiedis doing everything he can to wake them up.

Diamond hits a hurricanrana and a DDT which involves the crowd somewhat, but we go straight into Kiedis vs Digby which kills them dead again. Digby gets the better of both opponents, tags in Diamond, and he hits a split legged moonsault to Osborne that Keidis breaks up. As Digby and Kiedis fight to the outside, Diamond misses a 450 splash before Osborne hits his finisher for 3.

What a strange, strange match. The crowd was dead to begin with, the musician was given the hope spot, and the heels pinned the returning babyface star. Post-match, Osborne bails leaving Kiedis alone with his opponents, and he eats a hurricanrana from last night’s singer and a Famouser from Digby.

Winners: Will Kiedis & Sam Osborne

2023 PWA Colosseum Final – “The Fight for Iron Mercy”: Paris de Silva vs Zack Sabre Jr

Main event time in the battle for the sword! “Spartan Spirit” Paris de Silva enters to some brief “spartan-esque” music which quickly becomes The Velocities theme. ZSJ is out and immediately trying to get in de Silva’s face, heightening the tension in the air.

This was another incredible match. Early in the match ZSJ tried to adopt the same tactics that had worked against London, only for de Silva to have the reversals to counter – great storytelling. Then it went the other way as ZSJ was able to counter some of the attacks that had worked for Jude and that Paris was trying to replicate.

This was such a convincing wrestling match of two men who cared, who were invested in some big stakes, and who are incredible wrestlers. Again, it was submissions vs aerial attacks, it was striking vs resilience. And at a couple of points – firstly after a shooting star press, and secondly after a cut-throat roundhouse kick to the back of ZSJ’s head – they had me 100% sold on Paris winning.

Zack is so good – there were some gruesome submissions along the way, it was everything you love about ZSJ. And like Jude London before him, de Silva absolutely hung with one of the world’s best and looked like a star.

De Silva kicks out of a penalty kick, he kicks out of the spinning Michinoku driver that took down London, but he ultimately has to tap to a submission I can’t even name.

You could argue forever which of ZSJ’s night 2 matches were better. For me it was the first match vs London, but this played off that match so well while also being a great match in its own right.

Winner of Colosseum – “The Fight for Iron Mercy”: Zack Sabre Jr

Post match ZSJ takes the mic – and the sword – to his raucous audience. He quotes Kosei Fujita – “what’s up c*nts?”

He says The Velocities took 10 years off his life, and says we should enjoy them while we can cos they won’t be here much longer. He says it’s been 5 years since he’s been in Australia, and after wrestling for 19 this is the first time he’s won a sword – but because he’s clumsy, if we see him missing limbs we’ll know what happened. He also gives us the great line that “I live in Japan, and the last think Japan needs is another white c*nt with a sword.”

He says that as the leader of TMDK the faction is very important to him, as he, MIkey Nicholls and Shane Haste were so close in the NOAH Dojo, and he says that because of that this trip to Australia will be one of his highlights of the year.

He then says that he was privileged to have watched one of PWA’s biggest moments last night as Jess Troy won the title, and he teases us by saying that tournament winners usually get a title shot.

He then goes onto talk about Kosei Fujita’s recent visit, and talks about wanting to get Bad Dude Tito out to Australia – but the name isn’t Australian enough, he’ll need to be “Sick C*nt Tito”.

He goes onto say that he may not be Australian, but some of the most important people to him are, and he essentially hopes to see us soon.

Final thoughts: Damn, man. Zack Sabre Jr. There’s a reason he’s considered one of the world’s best, and why a good few dozen people travelled to Sydney for this tournament to see him. He gave us two incredible matches on night two, as well as a really great one on night one.

Of course, that’s to take nothing away from The Velocities, who were already stars, but became behemoths through their performances at Colosseum. If they weren’t legitimately one of the world’s best (possible the best) unsigned tag teams, you’d lament that you didn’t get to see them in singles action more often.

Other than that, the 6-pack challenge and 4-on-4 tag match featuring the champs and Colosseum losers were both really run; Backman suffered from his placing on the card, but I thought the signs were really positive. The only thing I didn’t like was the Goober Report and subsequent match, which was a bit tiresome.

Overall the Colosseum tournament was an amazing couple of days of wrestling, and it was absolutely worth the trip to Sydney. 

I guess the only question I have coming out of it relates to their commitment to Sydney. Throughout both nights a big deal was made of Colosseum “coming home” for the first time since 2019, and how Liberty Hall will always be the spiritual home of the tournament. I guess I question the apparent decision to lock in Liberty Hall going forward when I suspect the total crowd for both nights was under 500 people – fewer people than attended one night (night 2) of last year’s tournament in Melbourne.

Certainly I’m biased as a Melbourne resident (who drove a really long way for these shows), and I’m definitely not suggesting that Colosseum should never be in Sydney – but I think the Melbourne experience of 2022 along with this year’s crowd numbers should make them more open to taking PWA’s flagship tournament on the road again in the future.

How to watch: Colosseum is available to Fite+ subscribers at no additional charge. You can watch it on Fite+.

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