By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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World Series Wrestling “Unleash Hell Night 1”
Streamed on FITE TV
March 10, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia at South Eastern Entertainment Centre
Australia’s World Series Wrestling is holding four straight shows featuring more than a dozen of the top talent from the United States, with wrestlers from the AEW, New Japan, and Impact rosters. The first show took place in Melbourne Australia, on Friday, March 10, 2023. (It took place at 2:30 a.m. CST.) This show is available on Fite+.
The ring announcer boasted this is the 14th straight sellout for WSW. He also announced that Taya Valkyrie had to bow out of the tour at the last minute. (Interesting… is she about to debut in WWE or AEW?) This building is set up like an Impact taping, with the ramp across from the hard camera. The lights are low but I’m guessing we have 500 in attendance. Jesse Adams and a partner provided commentary. They said this show has been sold out for months.
* “The Major Players” Matt Cardona and Brian Myers hit the ring. “All hail the Death Match King,” Cardona said. “All hail the most professional wrestler. And all hail the Major Players.” Myers told the crowd how lucky they are to see them. Cardona said they “traveled more than 30 hours to get to this stupid country,” and they didn’t do it for the fans, “they did it for the money!”
1. Erick Redbeard (f/k/a Erick Rowan) and Matt Basso defeated “The Major Players” Matt Cardona and Brian Myers at 9:03. Basso dresses like one of the Viking Raiders; he’s bald with a short beard. Redbeard and Cardona started, but Matt rolled to the floor to stall. In the ring, Erick hit a shoulder tackle that dropped Cardona. Basso suplexed Myers. TMP worked over Basso, and he dove into the ring before being counted out at 4:00. Myers kept Basso grounded on the mat; this is very old school tag wrestling.
Basso hit a back suplex at 7:00 and they were both down. Redbeard finally made the hot tag and cleaned house. Redbeard hit a sliding dropkick between the ropes onto TMP, then he hit a catapult senton into the ring. He hit a sideslam on Cardona for a nearfall. Redbeard hit a flying crossbody block on Cardona. Redbeard and Basso hit a team Claw Slam on Cardona’s head for the pin. Okay opener; they got the crowd into it. Redbeard and Basso celebrated with beers in the ring.
2. TJP defeated Blake Christian and Flip Gordon in a three-way at 13:55. Blake is a babyface tonight. TJP was introduced as half of the IWGP Junior Tag Team champions. Gordon had his WSW tag title belt and he’s wearing his GI Joe-inspired trunks. I am a HUGE fan of all three of these guys. Quick reversals, with Blake hitting a dropkick on Flip. TJP hit a head-scissors takedown on Flip. Blake hit his Fosbury Flop to the floor on Gordon at 2:00. In the ring, TJP and Blake traded forearm shots. They missed several blows and had a standoff, and the crowd loudly cheered.
Flip hit a springboard dropkick on both guys. He hit a standing moonsault on Blake for a nearfall at 4:30, and he jawed at the ref. TJP hit a Northern Lights suplex on Blake for a nearfall while also having Flip’s leg tied up. Blake hit a half-nelson suplex. TJP applied an Octopus submission hold on Blake at 7:30. TJP hit a Saito Suplex. Blake hit a handspring-back-enzuigiri, and everyone was down, and the crowd chanted, “This is awesome!” Blake hit a tornado DDT on TJP, and they began trading more forearm shots. Blake hit a spear at 10:00.
Flip and Blake battled on the top rope. TJP hit a swinging slam on Blake. Flip hit his fireman carry slam. TJP hit a tornado DDT, then the Mamba Spash on Flip for a nearfall at 13:30. TJP hit a huracanrana on Blake. TJP hit his Detonation Kick on Flip for the pin. That was just fantastic.
3. Jessica Troy defeated Steph de Lander at 8:45. I’ve seen Jessica before; she has long red hair. I really noticed when Australia native Steph competed in Impact recently that she’s really tall, plus she has added some muscle mass. Some standing switches to open and the commentators say “de Lander is just too powerful.” They brawled to the floor, where Troy hit some hard chops to the chest, but de Lander hit her own hard chops. Back in the ring, Jessica worked the left arm and stomped on the elbow.
Steph hit a fallaway slam at 5:30 and a Stinger Splash in the corner, then a German release suplex for a nearfall. Troy fired back with a DDT and a brainbuster. Steph went for a victory roll, but Troy rolled through and applied a cross-armbreaker. Steph put Troy on her shoulders and slammed her face-first to the mat for a believable nearfall at 8:00. Troy escaped a powerbomb attempt, and she again applied a cross-armbreaker move until Steph tapped out. A mild upset in my eyes.
4. Impact World Champion Josh Alexander vs. Brian Cage ended in a no contest/draw at 16:35. Cage had his WSW tag title belt, and Alexander had the Impact World Championship title belt. This was one of a just a few matches announced in advance, and I’m stunned this is on so early, so I’m fearful of a screwjob finish. An intense lockup to begin, with Josh grounding him with a headlock. Josh hit a second-rope dropkick at 4:00. Cage hit a 619, drawing a pop. Josh fired back with his crossbody block as Cage was in the ropes, and they crashed to the floor.
Back in the ring, Josh was in control with some basic punches and and stomps. Josh set up for the C4 Spike at 7:30, but Cage powered out. They traded chops in the corner. Cage hit a tornado DDT, and they were both down. Cage hit some clotheslines and a spinebuster at 9:30, then a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall. Alexander hit a forward Finlay Roll, then a second-rope kneedrop to the back of the head. Josh applied an ankle lock. Cage hit an F5 spinning faceplant for a nearfall.
Josh dropped Cage throat-first on the top rope, but he missed a top-rope moonsault. Alexander hit a backbreaker over his knee. Cage hit a standing powerbomb and a backbreaker over his knee for a believable nearfall at 12:30. Cage hit a second-rope superplex, tossing Alexander across the ring. Alexander hit a release German Suplex, then a second one. Cage hit a German Suplex and a roaring clothesline for a believable nearfall at 14:00.
Alexander went back to the ankle lock but Cage escaped. Josh re-applied it. Cage went for another F5, but Alexander escaped and went back to the ankle lock; Cage teased tapping out but he eventually reached the ropes. Josh set up for the C4 Spike, when suddenly two guys hit the ring and attacked Alexander. Flip Gordon ran down to make the save. Alexander then hit the C4 Spike piledriver on one of the attackers. Josh and Cage shook hands, and with Flip, those three celebrated in the ring, all holding their title belts. Good match and I didn’t mind the finish, especially considering what I assume are some politics involved in that neither man could really lose.
* A LONG intermission. Glad I wasn’t watching live at 4 a.m., so I was able to fast-forward over this.
5. “The Parea” Eli Theseus and Gabriel Aeros defeated Joey Janela and Effy at 15:43. The Parea wore identical gold trunks and both have short black hair; Eil has a goatee. Effy and Gabriel started, with Effy doing some of his gay humor. Janela entered at 3:30 and joined in the gay humor as they continued to beat up Gabriel. Janela hit a double clothesline, sending The Parea to the floor to regroup, as this has been all comedy early on, and the crowd was into it.
Eli put a Greek flag on his shoulders and danced, and he got booed. The Parea worked over Janela with some basic moves, and Eli choked Janela with the flag. Effy made the hot tag at 10:00 and he hit Helluva Kicks, and he gave Gabriel a TKO stunner onto Eli for a nearfall. Effy hit a second-rope Blockbuster, so Janela hit a top-rope Blockbuster for simultaneous nearfalls at 12:30. Janela and Effy went under the ring and got doors and chairs. “That is classic Joey Janela!” a commentator said.
A door bridge was placed in the ring. Effy hit a top-rope Whoopee Cushion butt drop on Eli through the door bridge for a nearfall, but Gabriel made the save. Janela and Gabriel traded punches. Effy hit a Mafia Kick, then a Helluva Kick. However, Gabriel hit Effy with a chain, allowing Eli to get a tainted pin on the knocked-out Effy. So-so match.
6. Jordynne Grace defeated Shazza McKenzie to win the WSW Women’s Title at 1:10. Grace has totally revamped her body, dropping weight and adding muscle definition. Shazza, who toured the U.S. extensively in 2022, got booed here even though she’s the Australia native. Jordynne hit a shoulder tackle to open, sending Shazza to the floor to regroup. She started to head up the ramp, but Jordynne dragged her back into the ring. Jordynne nailed a flipping pump-hanlde powerbomb to score the pin. The crowd went nuts and the commentators said the title changed “in record time.” We had some fireworks and confetti for the new champ.
7. Johnny Down Under (f/k/a John Morrison) defeated Bandido to retain the WSW Title at 18:25. This crowd was hot at the bell as they each played to the crowd before an intense lockup. They traded deep armdrags and had a standoff at 3:00. They stopped wrestling to have a short dance-off. Silly but the crowd was amused. They brawled to the floor, and Johnny dropped Bandido stomach-first on the guardrail at 7:00. In the ring, Bandido hit a senton and an impressive delayed vertical suplex; Bandido has freaky strength for his size.
Bandido hit a baseball slide dropkick sending them both the floor. Bandido removed a ‘Shrek’ mask from a fan in the crowd and put it on Johnny, and he hit a pair of superkicks at 9:30, with Johnny going down like he had been shot. Funny stuff. Back in the ring, Bandido hit three monkey flips. On the floor, Johnny hit a superkick at 11:30. Johnny Down Under hit a “kangaroo flip” (monkey flip.) In the ring, Johnny hit a running Shooting Star Press for a nearfall at 13:00.
Bandido nailed a Crucifix Takedown for a nearfall. They began trading punches and forearm shots. Bandido hit a pop-up stunner; Johnny hit a Pele Kick, and they were both down. Bandido hit a top-rope corkscrew splash for a nearfall. Johnny hit the Moonlight Driver spinning faceplant for a believable nearfall at 16:00. Johnny missed a top-rope corkscrew splash. Bandido hit his Gorilla Press, then a top-rope frogsplash for a believable nearfall. Johnny nailed the Starship Pain split-legged moonsault for the pin. Good match.
* Matt Cardona and Brian Myers hit the ring and attacked Johnny. Bandido helped Johny and they fought them off.
Final Thoughts: I don’t mind the non-finish of Cage-Alexander. They gave the fans a really good 18-minute match with some good nearfalls, and it earned best match. The three-way was fantastic and is in second-place. I have written this every time I’ve seen Flip Gordon since the end of ROH, but how has Tony Khan not brought in Flip to the new ROH? He’s easily the most talented guy from that era who isn’t on major TV right now. (His NWA run didn’t allow him to show much of anything.) The main event was really good, and on this occasion, Johnny’s juvenile humor didn’t hurt the match.
Last year, this tour included Australian Buddy Matthews, and he was sorely missed on this year’s show. Johnny Down Under will next face Matt Cardona for the title on Saturday.
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