AC/DC “Thunderstruck” is pumping and fluorescent red lights illuminate the ring, creating the illusion of sunburn on my skin. It may be a freezing cold night, but that hasn’t stopped Aussies turning up to see Ricochet at Professional Championship Wrestling Energy.
All sorts of people fill the stands at the newly refurbished South Eastern Entertainment Centre in Ferntree Gully – obvious first timers who look slightly confused as to why these guys don’t adhere to pain, hecklers galore and seasoned veterans of PCW shows alike. Locals wave and chatter enthusiastically, and travellers like myself attempt to mingle with the masses.
The hype is real for International Wrestling Superstar – The Future of Flight, King Ricochet.
NJPW Best of the Super Juniors, Lucha Underground Champion, Battle of Los Angeles Winner and a 3 time Wrestling Observer’s Best Flying Wrestler, just to name a few key points on this man’s resume. The world’s hottest free agent (No, not Heath Slater) is here in Australia for the first time, to challenge PCW National Champion The Relentless Mark Kage for his title.
The undercard boasts incredibly young talent giving it a red hot go. The wrestling is a little rough around the edges, but boy, can they bump.
The curtain jerker is The Filip Brothers (Stevie and Tome) vs. Touch of Class for the PCW Tag Team Championships. There’s some back-and-forth forearms that don’t quite land, and it’s a little awkward to watch. The crowd is clearly behind Trikki and Nate Cross from Touch of Class. Cross is so young, but oozes potential, under the wing of PCW well-versed SLAM trainer Trikki. Cross takes a brainbuster on the apron not unlike the earth-shattering version between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens at Battleground, very timely. Class retaliate with lethal suicide dives, the fans gasp. Touch of Class are able to capture the gold, and the celebrations ensure that the crowd is adequately warmed up.
WAIK vs Cass Stone vs Ryan Rapid is an interesting affair. WAIK could be compared to Crazy Steve from TNA, and the fans enjoy partaking in his ludicrously rabid grunting and snarling. For a young man of his build, Ryan is unbelievably agile, landing a moonsault from the ring post to the outside with ease. WAIK, similarly takes to the air on various occasions, with a senton that lands far too close to the railing for anyone’s concern. Yet he recovers, and displays rich caricature and narrative with Ryan, bickering over the pin on Stone. Cass Stone is for the most part, a little off. His character is not clearly defined, yet what he lacks in authenticity, he makes up for in the ring, beautifully spearing WAIK through the ropes to pick up the win. And does it ever piss off the fans.
For a relatively small crowd of maybe 300-something people, it’s quite the melting pot of personalities. I make eye contact across the ring with perplexed faces that don’t seem to have a clue what’s going on . To the far left of me is an older man who I’m almost positive is convinced it’s all real. I can see in the grandstands a group of kids wearing Prince Puma masks and holding cardboard signs with Ricochet sprawled on them in permanent marker; I think I will be someone who derives great pleasure from dressing up my kids and taking them to indie shows.
Next is Anthony Dangerfield vs Daniel Swagger in a ladder match for a contract to contend the PCW National Championship and the Carnage event in September. You can cut the tension with a knife. Good and bad are as clear as day, as Dangerfield cops epic levels of heat. There’s nothing quite like a bunch of kids with CeNation shirts rallying up against the barricade and flipping off a wrestler, to the tune of classic “You are a wanker” chants. This would become more distasteful than humorous half an hour later, through to the end of the show.
However, this seems to exhaust the crowd, as Swagger drags Dangerfield around ringside to take chops from overly-ambitious fans in an attempt to rev them up once more. It only works momentarily.
There’s some ridiculously dangerous spots. Swagger takes a Blackout/Curb Stomp on the ground outside, the thud of his head can be heard from the other side of the ring. Swagger practically coast-to-coast’s two ladders into a restrained Dangerfield – One ladder flies out from the apron and over the railing, right into the laps of the family sitting to my right. Talk about EXTREME.
Rather than appreciating these moments, the crowd seem more concerned with attacking Dangerfield at any given opportunity. I notice that heel hatred is a trend in this room tonight.
The match ends with a brutal drop of Dangerfield from the top of the ladder and through a table – the landing is sickeningly jarring – as Swagger retrieves the briefcase. He routinely invites children (and some adults need only a moment’s notice before propelling themselves under the ropes) into the ring to celebrate with him. He truly is the “Golden Child”.
The Clash Match between Danny Psycho and Slex is a highlight. They both live up to their resumes, as experience adds a fresh gloss to the show. Slex’s entrance theme, a rebooted MGMT “Electric Eel”, has me quietly fist pumping to myself. Another plus.
A friendship wearing thin, these two go at it, holding nothing back. The in-ring chemistry is off the charts, as they work fast paced and high impact with impeccable pacing. But the crowd is weary, and it doesn’t sit right. Bummer. This match deserved more. I for one will definitely be going out of my way to see these two again.
To announce the winner of the raffle, in walks the sassiest, most suave little ball of humanity I have ever seen. He looks exactly like a rounder Hornswoggle, with a pair of shades that scream “say one word against me and I will f*** you up”. Who is this audacious man, and how can I be more like him? A man in the crowd knocks down his size, to which “Mr Big” (the irony in this is so wrong that it’s right) responds, “That’s why your wife comes home with me.” Stop everything. Mic drop. Boss level infinity.
Some people are still going strong, but the majority appear to have flat lined. It’s a damn shame. But it won’t stop me from enjoying the rest show. With one more match on the card before the big fight, patience looks to be wearing thin. A surprise appearance from the FanTabulous Micky Jackson to accompany Chris Trance in a tag match, has most in good spirits. That is until the finish, where Jackson is slow to land a leg drop and the ref counts three in favour of team Nash Archer. My heart hurt for that poor referee. He was only doing his job people.
But come main event time, everything changes. I’m completely fan-girling as Ricochet makes his way down the ramp to the ring, and everyone else seems to be feeling the same. The Ricochet chants are ripe, especially after the outstanding performance he put on the night before at International Fight Night at the same venue. Clearly, word has gotten around that this guy is a big deal.
Mark Kage – 3 time SLAM Champion and 2 time State Champion – looks like the most hated man on the planet. I catch out of the corner of my eye, a little old lady with a knitted rug over her lap, flipping the bird at Kage. She wasn’t the only one, and it had me a little concerned for this man’s welfare once this show was over.
Nonetheless, the match went ahead, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. Kage held his ground, but Ricochet is something else. The King earns the favour of the crowd early on with his classic kick-up no-sells, absolutely to die for. This infuriates Kage, who is able to gain the upper hand as the fun and games subside. The match is fairly even, and it’s some damn good wrestling on the part of both men.
It looks as if Ricochet might seal the deal with a shooting star press, but none other than the Filip Brothers run in and interfere. There’s a mediocre ref bump, which calls for a replacement. Choruses of boos fill the building to the brim, as ol’ mate clocks on for another shift. But Ricochet comes back, and with the added aid of the new tag champs Touch of Class, the match will go on.
Engaging, exciting, effective, these two could seemingly fight forever. But all good things must come to an end, and Kage retains the title with a series of over the shoulder back-to-belly piledrivers. The fans are shocked, but the outcome is more than understandable, and I for one, leave feeling fulfilled.
Thinking about it now, there were a lot of confused faces around the room for the most part of the night. Maybe newbies to wrestling? Or dates who’ve been dragged along to the show? Definitely something I’d be guilty of. Perhaps they came out of curiosity. I can only hope that some of their questions have been answered, and that they want to find out more.
A great show, far from wasted time. But it was missing a spark. Maybe handing out stickers to remind people this isn’t real at the door would help.