DVD Review: PWWA (3 September 2011)

Despite only taking place a month ago, the Pro Wrestling Women’s Alliance event which took place on September 3 was available for purchase at the recent SHIMMER: Women Athletes tapings in Berwyn, IL last weekend. Obviously, we had to pick up a copy to see the event, which was headlined by the first SHIMMER title defence outside of the United States, with then-Champion (still feels weird to think of her in that way) Madison Eagles defending against longtime rival/partner Jessie McKay, and former SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Nicole Matthews, who was making her first trip Down Under.

Eagles had been away from the promotion and its parent company the PWA for around six months to live in the US, making it onto the CHIKARA roster, but had to withdraw and return to Australia for treatment for an injured shoulder which she suffered in a car accident back in April. She had wrestled sporadically in North America since then – once in CHIKARA and another time at nCw Femmes Fatales VI in Canada in June where she defeated our latest Women Of Wrestling Podcast guest Courtney Rush. Upon her return to Australia, Eagles (who also holds the PWWA Championship) turned heel, attacking a newly-turned babyface McKay, who was trying to win the PWWA title which KC Cassidy had claimed as her own in Eagles’ absence. As it turned out, the belt was reclaimed by Eagles and she and Cassidy let things slide, even teaming together for Madison’s return match in her home country on August 8 against McKay and Shazza McKenzie.

The SHIMMER title match at PWWA was a big talking point ahead of time. Would Eagles be dropping the belt due to injury, and if so, to whom? How hurt was she? Would she be able to go at full-speed during the match considering she had only wrestled as few as three matches since the injury occurred four months previously? With that level of intrigue, it became a real possibility that the SHIMMER Championship would change hands in Liverpool, New South Wales. Obviously, we know she retained the title, but what participation did she have in the match? Let’s find out…

Following a pretty sweet video package highlighting the women featuring on the card, we get the show on the road with Shazza McKenzie against the first of four New Zealand women making their PWA/PWWA debut that weekend, Britenay. A slap war saw Shazza get the advantage but couldn’t capaitalise, missing a dropkick on the Kiwi. However, rather than getting on the attack, Britenay retreated to the outside to argue with the fans and take a breather. That’s logic-defying – why not attack your downed opponent, rather than letting her recover? A miscommunication over a Thesz press followed, but things settle down when Britenay took control following a corner charge, hair throw and spear. However, McKenzie recovered to deliver forearms and a neckbreaker but suffered when she was dropped throat first over the ropes. Britenay went for a Gory Stretch into a Gory Bomb/Flatliner combination for a near-fall, but then ate an Overdrive from McKenzie, which led to a victory for the Aussie. I’ve seen Shazza have better matches – perhaps it was due to them not wrestling each other regularly which meant that it didn’t gel that well.

KC Cassidy pulled out of her scheduled match with Bombshell Bo due to her being on crutches and citing an injury to her left leg, so offered Minx as a replacement. A shame, as this match wasn’t much to write home about. KC tried her best to interfere – even getting into the ring to hit Bo with her crutch in full view of the ref, which somehow wasn’t a DQ – but Bo got the victory with a moss covered three handled family gredunza in what was a mercifully short contest.

An Australasian mix followed with Aussie Harley Wonderland and New Zealand’s JPE (Just Plain Evil) taking on Australia’s Eliza Sway and debuting Kiwi Kellyanne English. Wonderland has a burlesque gimmick going on, so it clashed to see her next to the all-black, screaming and snarling JPE, but there we go…

An early heel attack was quickly thwarted with them being thrown to the outside, only to suffer a somersault senton off the apron from the agile English, though Harley recovered to get the heat with a German suplex, and then she and JPE used their size advantage to beat Kellyanne down. It was a pretty standard beatdown, but one point has to be made. At one moment, a Harley hair throw left English close to Sway, so as a reflex, Wonderland smashed Eliza off the apron and pulled English back – others would have not noticed it and Kellyanne would have had to stall and pretend to have the urgency of a sloth to avoid making the lukewarm tag.

The hot – and only – tag came after JPE missed a Vader Bomb, leading to Sway connecting with clotheslines, a spinning heel kick and she and English hitting a Hart Attack clothesline on Harley, followed by a Barbie Crusher on Wonderland for the pinfall. A standard tag team match – nothing wrong with it, but nothing spectacular either.

Savannah Summers (who turned heel at Last Woman Standing last year) attacked New Zealand’s Megan-Kate in the aisleway to kick off the following contest, suffering a full nelson bomb and a surfboard, before kicking off a sustained beatdown. Summers is a great heel, screaming at the top of her lungs when anything doesn’t go her way and using basic moves to sustain the heat. MK got into the fight by hitting a facebuster, backbreaker and neckbreaker in quick succession before getting the win with a MKK Kick for the win. It’s a shame that it didn’t go back and forth in the closing minutes, but for what it was, it was fine.

Here’s where the show went into overdrive.

Megan-Kate’s partner in the BFFs Evie started her match with Kellie Skater with chain wrestling, before taking an early lead with strong kicks, a sweet cartwheel forearm to the corner and a uranage into a backbreaker. However, as the match spilled to the outside, Skater took over with punches, chops and forearms, and managed to stop Evie fighting back by dropping her with a big clothesline. Undeterred, Evie tried to get a quick pinfall with a crucifix and O’Connor Roll but was cut off again with a Divorce Court, and punished with a Camel Clutch. A powerslam attempt by Skater came to nothing, and Evie again tried to wrap things up with a Yakuza kick and missile dropkick. The finish came when Skater’s torture rack was countered into a Go To Sleep by Evie for the upset win in a fun match. Both did a great job here.

The triple threat contest between Eagles, McKay and Matthews kicked off with a three-way headlock followed by a flurry of pinfall attempts from all three participants. A series of sweet three-way spots as part of a greco-roman knuckle-lock followed but then led to the contest settling down with Madison beating on Nicole while keeping Jessie at bay on the outside before being double-teamed by the challengers, who put their own long-standing rivalry to one side, acknowledging the threat posed by the champion.

At this point, it should be pointed out that despite the possibility of her shoulder still being a mess, Eagles doesn’t miss a step, and you would never be able to tell if she was in pain or not. It’s reasons like that which justify her being named the Women Of Wrestling Podcast 2010 Wrestler of the Year and number one in the PWI Female 50.

Nicole and Jessie work on each other before Eagles retakes the ring and cuts Jessie off with a backbreaker but is countered into an Octopus Stretch by McKay. The champion forced her way out to nail Jessie with a spectacular spider German suplex from the top rope, only to eat a double foot stomp by Matthews. Seeking the win, Nicole connects with a missile dropkick on Eagles and a lariat on McKay for a near-fall before Madison replied with a German on Nicole and a leg lariat on Jessie for another long two-count. McKay’s attempt to become the SHIMMER champion almost came after hitting a hurracanrana on Matthews and then a stunning reverse rana on Eagles which put the fans in a frenzy. As it spilled to the outside, Matthews connected with a springboard plancha onto both Australians before attempting to hit a Roll The Dice on Eagles back in the ring, only to be hit by a Schoolgirl Crush from Jessie. At this point, Madison decided enough was enough by delivering a Yakuza kick to McKay to take her out of the match, and nail Matthews with the Hellbound for the win in a thrilling triple threat to retain the title.

And if you think that was a pretty comprehensive write-up of the match, I’ve only written up about half of it.

**

So, the main event and semi final between Evie and Skater were great. The rest varied from fine to forgettable, but seeing as this was billed as a one-match show and that match delivered in spades, you would have to say that it was worth the money. However, I feel the need to inform you of a few issues with the DVD.

First off, there is no commentary. While this is nothing new – the other PWWA DVDs are sans speech too – it would be nice to have some information about the new faces, or what each wrestler has been up to. After all, this may be the first PWWA DVD that many buy, based on the SHIMMER title match, and first-timers may not know that four of the women on the show are debuting from New Zealand, or who acts like Shazza McKenzie, Savannah Summers or Eliza Sway are. I’m not saying there needs to be commentary, but captions about ongoing storylines or information about the wrestlers (much like Pop Up Video does) may be an idea for the future.

At one hour and 23 minutes, the main feature of the DVD is pretty damn short, but this is padded out in the extras (the aforementioned tag team match from August 8 as well as two matches from the day before the PWWA show featuring Matthews v McKenzie and McKay, Evie, Megan-Kate & English v Eagles, Skater, JPE & Britenay) and adds an extra 35 minutes, which makes the duration much more acceptable.

But maybe the biggest disappointment is the video quality. I went back to watch Last Woman Standing to check if it was just my imagination, and it wasn’t – this latest DVD’s image quality isn’t as sharp and pixellates from time to time. I understand and acknowledge that the show was turned around and released within 4 weeks to get it available for SHIMMER, but it’s a pity that the picture isn’t as good as last year. Granted, many promotions would kill to get a 3-camera, multi-angle DVD production edited, replicated and released inside a month, but after setting the bar so high, it’s a shame that the great final two matches aren’t as bright and vibrant as they deserve to be.

However, I would still urge you to pick up PWWA, as it proves that Nicole Matthews is a can’t-miss main event star for 2012, and that Jessie McKay and Madison Eagles are headliners anywhere in the world. Get the DVD when it is released on PWA’s website.

- Lee Burton

(Pictures courtesy of NEW Photography)