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EPW REAWAKENING XVIII – GATE ONE

EPW REAWAKENING 18
GATE ONE THEATRE

9 November
Photos by Pix Photography

Here I am again giving a crack at reviewing something a little bit different from the norm here for Around The Sound. I’ve done the WA Ballet. I’ve reviewed the WA Opera. From Hip Hop to Musicals to Orchestras to Black Metal to Reggae, I’ve covered so many genres of music and art this year. What made me decide to review Pro Wrestling? What does that have to do with a Music publication?

We’re Around The Sound – and Professional Wrestling in my opinion is the most intricate art form in the world. That’s my opinion. You try being an actor, a character, a stuntman, an athlete, and do all those things in 1 take…. EVERY time, without hurting your opponent, or even for ONE SECOND you allow anybody in the audience to lose their suspension of disbelief. When it is done right, it is the most thrilling thing to watch in the world as far as I’m concerned.

EPW have been making noise in their own way for the last 18 years in our city. I was first made aware of EPW when I was in my early teens, around 2003. 16 years ago! Over the years I’ve caught a whole heap of their events, and with their biggest show of the year EPW ReAwakening XVIII taking place on November 9, I thought to myself that I owed EPW something like this. I should go to the show and review it and give them my absolute best, just like they always have for their fans. I always wanted to be apart of EPW in some way, and I think this is the closest I can get.

How does one review a Pro wrestling show? Man, this is going to be tough. I’m not going to be a hack and rate matches out of 5 stars. That just doesn’t make sense to me – and if you care about wrestling journalists that do things like that, and their opinion, then that’s up to you, but I think it’s wrong. This is totally subjective, and to talk about things as if it’s a fact and everybody that disagrees is wrong? The sheer arrogance of that bothers me. Okay, now on with the review! (Warning, it’s a long one.)

The show opened with the Special Guest host of the nights proceedings, the one and only ‘Gorgeous’ Garry. Garry did a real great job hyping the show and engaging the crowd from the outset, he showed such passion. This is a total pro. He’s been apart of the company on and off for years and has always been all class. I hope from here he can be engaged in a heated rivalry with somebody, he’s such a character, and I’d like to see different sides of him.

‘Gorgeous’ Garry.

The first contest of the evening featured EPW Wrestler of the Year (2 years running!) The ‘Real Wrestler’ Gavin McGavin taking on Dan Moore. This match-up was a Semi-Final in the EPW Invitational Tournament, the longest running yearly tournament in Australian Pro Wrestling history.

‘The Real Wrestler’ Gavin McGavin.

What I enjoy most about Gavin McGavin is that he’s a real heel. He does his job. He’s very dis-likable, and he doesn’t give anybody an opportunity to like him for a second. I see through that of course, but that’s just me, I enjoy the work of bad guys more than good guys in pro wrestling. Gavin does that job to a T.

Dan Moore.

Dan Moore really conveys pain and emotion on his face in a way that draws you in as a viewer. This is really hard to review. I just can’t sit here and talk about all the counters and maneuvers. I don’t remember that kind of stuff, unless it’s some hectic high spot, that’s just not how I become glued to a wrestling contest. I will say this though; these two had great chemistry, and everything came across pretty seamless. Dan Moore picked up the big win, and I was happy for him. He’s been in the company a long time and it’s great to see him get out of Tag Team wrestling and have the chance to go after a higher spot. As far as Gavin is concerned, as Wrestler of the Year, it felt like he was utilized well in this spot to elevate Dan, but at the same time it was a shame to me that this character wasn’t in the middle of some kind of massively heated feud with a babyface character that was culminating at this show. Or maybe something has been brewing between these two and I wasn’t aware!

In match 2 of the show, Julian Ward now faced Kiel Steria in the other Semi Final. Julian was accompanied to the ring by probably the most successful manager in EPW history, Amber. She’s leading a group known as the Untouchables. Julian is on the rise in EPW, and this match was proof of that. He’s improved so much in the last few years, and has really found his footing now that he’s a heel.

Julian Ward w/Amber.

These two worked together well, but man – I can not and have never been able to be invested in Kiel Steria as a babyface. I really don’t like being critical because it’s not really anybody’s fault, but whoever has been writing the shows in the last few years hasn’t really put Kiel in any scenario where I have been interested one iota about his character. ‘Hollywood’ Kiel Steria was where it was AT back in 2010/11, but Kiel needs a fresh coat of paint and a different theme song because it doesn’t suit him. Julian picked up the win to advance to the finals of the Invitational Tournament in a solid match as expected of these two.

Up next was my personal favorite part of the show. The Taskforce (Jack Edwards and Tipene) would take on their former leader Taylor King and who I would describe as the best character in the company right now Tyler Jacobs, along with his followers ‘The Children’.

The Pre-match vignette for The Taskforce.

Firstly, The Taskforce and their pre-match vignette on the big screen, as well as their unbelievable and well timed entrance turned them from a regular Tag Team into my favorite Tag Team. All it took was that one vignette. I’m sorry but to me, this is what wrestling is all about. Chararcters, character development, and storylines. Seeing them evolve into this new version of The Taskforce was a great thing to witness. It invested me in this match.

Jack Edwards & Tipene – The TaskForce.

Taylor King, the former Child Star… What a fantastic character arc he has had. To start off as a Child Star, all that arrogance he personified, the entitlement, everything that he did over the course of that period of time…. It was fantastic. Then of course, every Child Star has a meltdown. Which he did. For Taylors character to ‘Find The Light’ with this cult leader… what a perfect circumstance, and I believe it wasn’t intended that way to begin with, it just naturally evolved that way. That’s just great timing.

Tyler Jacobs is the most interesting character in EPW today. He has completely re-invented himself. It is such a brilliant change in character from what we had been used to with his various dispositions and gimmicks over the years. This is something that I really hope brings him his most success yet. To have been there from day one and be as relevant and interesting as ever 18 years later is a credit to the man behind the character.

Tyler Jacobs and his followers ‘The Children’.

The story being told through this match was wonderful. You had so many elements to look at. The entrances alone drew you in. The Children at ringside, Chadwick Jackson and Stella Nyx were killing me. Chadwick was SO in his character, with the facial expressions, the reactions to every single solitary second of the contest. The dude is basically scratching at himself, and wigging out. You could have believed this guy was actually nuts. Stella was the same. She plays the character brilliantly as she believes in everything she is doing. She’s such a brat. Well done to you both, you made my night.

Back to the match, the story as I said was told so well. Taylor joining back with the Taskforce by the matches end and getting away from Tyler Jacobs was really well orchestrated. When those three hugged and embraced it was such a funny and touching moment, I was laughing so hard and pounding my hands together because I was just enjoying it so much, seeing them all leap into eachothers arms and become friends again with those big smiles on their faces. I leaned to a friend afterward and said ‘This is what wrestling is all about’. It’s true. It’s about the moments.

“The Prince Of Perth” Jay Taylor was out next to face high flyer, Del Cano. Jay is another guy that has been around a long time, and I would love to see him get involved in some real personal feuds and angles. He’s a born entertainer, a real slime ball.

Del Cano has shown me something this past year, I’ve been really happy to see his entertaining side come out as he spent the better part of the year trying to find a Tag team partner. The story behind this match was Jay Taylor having issues with rookies and younger talent gaining opportunities and trying to ruin it for them. A simple story which I like. Jay Taylor picks up the win, these two obviously have worked with one another a lot because you could see they really work well together in the ring. If I was to nitpick, I’d have liked to see some kind of post match angle take place as the Jay Taylor victory made things so final. A continued beat down perhaps, just to add to the disgust Jay has for Del Cano. A beat down that just goes overboard to the point of it being sickening. I just wanted to sympathise with Del Cano more and want to see him have to dig deep and come back next time with a fire we haven’t seen from him before.

After this was a Street Fight that saw The Plague (Aaron Hawk & Dan Steel) (w/Jonathan Windsor & Twitch) def. Street Gang Hooligans (Alex Kingston & Logan Grey) to become the new EPW Tag Team Champions. Wow, is all I can say. These guys brutalized one another. This was really close to match of the night for me. The only thing I’d nitpick is the amount of near falls toward the end of the match, there were just so many that I knew that the eventual 3 count may take place when the match was no longer at it’s peak, when they ‘had the people’. Other than that, this was just pure insanity that I have come to learn from the Street Gang Hooligans. It’s their bread and butter. The Plague are an interesting crew, I really like the gimmick and look forward to learning more about it. This was Dan Steels moment though. Whilst his Tag partner had already been a Tag Team Champion 3 times, this is Dan’s first title win in EPW. He has spent a long time in that company and finally got something that he well and truly deserved. Congratulations to him and the others in the matchup too, for what you all accomplished.

After this was a very welcome intermission. Gate One is an awesome venue for EPW. I love the atmosphere and the big screens and this is the best step the company has ever made venue-wise as it is much more professional looking. The bars they had were excellent, but I do feel we were missing a cheap canned option of beer, like a $5 Emu Export. I only say that because I’m a tight arse.

The EPW Invitational Tournament Final.

The show got back under way and it was time for the Invitational Tournament Final between Julian Ward and Dan Moore. Again, another great match up. They took each other to their absolute limit, and the way that was conveyed came across very well. Again, Dan Moore could very well be the best at selling in EPW. It’s all in those facial expressions. He’s not busy thinking about his next spot. He’s already thinking 5-6 steps ahead in his subconscious, freeing him up the time to sell his pain and anguish every step of the way. Julian picked up the win and the Invitational Tournament Trophy, and he’ll get himself an EPW Championship match in the future. No Amber at ringside for this one which was rather upsetting.

Up next was a fun segment where we got the pop for a bunch of former EPW wrestlers getting a bit of respect and spotlight from the company and the audience celebrating their 18 years of success.

18 Years of EPW.

Seeing Slick Rick Sanders out there made me miss seeing that guy perform. Psychofett always gets a great response, his presence is missed too. It was a little disappointing that Hughesy or Jimmy Payne weren’t there, but you can’t have everything. I think I was the only one in my section that went nuts when Xeriyous Blade walked out with Azazal. Azazal did a great job on the mic and the expected ass whooping from the other legends/former talent was a nice touch. I don’t think Azazal has ever got the credit he deserves for how great he was being the ultimate heel.

Following this fun segment, The Untouchables (Damian Slater & Marcius Pitt) took on 2 EPW Originals, Davis Storm and Richter.

To me it meant a lot to me going into this to see Storm and Richter tag together on this night. Richter was one of my favorites when I was a teenager, and to see him perform again after all these years was a treat. These 4 performers are just on another level to many others. It was Richters first match in 5 years, and you couldn’t really tell that he had been out of the ring that long because Slater, Pitt and Storm are consummate professionals.

This was a really great match as it had so much drama and many peaks and valleys. These 4 guys really took you on a journey! Amber again played her part so well at ringside and the moment she got nailed by accident by an errant Slater Superkick, the crowd ate it up! The Untouchables get the win in one of the best matches of the evening, and from here I wonder what is next for their group! They need some formidable challengers. As much as I wondered about that, I also wonder what is next for veterans like Davis Storm and Richter; whom have both accomplished so much over the years. It never gets old seeing them perform, and I hope there is a lot more left in the tank for both of them. It must be hard being at this stage of your career and having literally worked with everybody on the roster, some twice or three times over. I guess it’s always in the angle at hand that can keep that kind of repetition compelling!

Finally, it was time for the Main Event. “The Don” Michael Morleone has been a main stay in the top tier of EPW for the last few years, capturing the EPW Championship on 2 occasions and solidifying himself as the best in the company.

EPW Champion – ‘The Don’ Michael Morleone.

Mikey Nicholls was a former 2 time EPW Champ going into this match as well. Fresh off his stint with WWE/NXT, Mikey is back in EPW this year. He was there right at the beginning on November 4, 2001 for their Awakening, and 18 years later he is back and in the Main Event.

‘Mad’ Mikey Nicholls.

This was a Main Event if i’ve ever seen one. Mikeys time in the big leagues has served him well! It’s always tough to have a babyface vs babyface Main Event title match but these two pulled it off. What a way to close the show; as the counters and near falls really had everybody in attendance on the edge of their seat. Mikey Nicholls managed to pick up his 3rd EPW Championship win by the end of it. I was hoping for something big to happen, some kind of turn, or a surprise, or a post match angle. Which is fine, I’m just spoiled goods as a wrestling fan, really, always looking for a swerve (bro). This was really all the fans needed. A stellar contest between the two best in EPW. That’s what they got.

EPW is something you have to go to see. The stories and matches are well performed by a crew of passionate people. It’s easy to pick up where things are storyline wise, as now they utilize those big screens between matches (which I think could have been used a ‘tad’ more on this night but perhaps that would be overkill, I just think almost every match on a ReAwakening needs a pre-show hype video no matter how small the issue is. Del Cano vs Jay is a good example, as well as Untouchables vs Storm and Richter) The lighting was awesome and the presentation of the show was very slick. I really respect what it is that these guys do and I implore anybody to head down to an Explosive Pro Wrestling event if you can ever do so. These guys are the best in the country, and it deserves to be noticed.

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