Tuesday, April 25, 2017

REVIEW: Riot City Wrestling’s Strength 2017 (Latvian Hall, Adelaide) on Saturday, April 22


I’LL be the first to admit that I know very little about Riot City Wrestling. I mean, my cousin Savannah Summers has wrestled for them from practically day one and I’ve seen the likes of the Basso brothers and the Armstrongs in action in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
But I’d never ACTUALLY attended a live RCW event until last Saturday. I had a very good reason to attend as it would be the final RCW bout for women’s champion Demi Bennett (above), who is bound for NXT in the very near future.
Me and some friends arrived and could barely squeeze into what appeared to be a sold-out Latvian Hall in Wayville. Apparently, there were 387 fans in a venue that holds 500 – how that is even possible without having punters hanging from the rafters is beyond me. Either way, it was an impressive crowd.
I give kudos to RCW for a classy ring and stage set-up, including a pre-show video on their big screen featuring heel tag team The Savage Gentlemen, who have a very cool gimmick.
In fact, they opened up proceedings with one half of The Gentlemen, Brodie Marshall, facing off against one half of the Armstrong brothers, Nick, in the Strength Cup 2017 semi-final. The two combatants didn’t click as well as I thought they would, but had a perfectly acceptable quick bout with Armstrong earning the shock three-count over the much bigger Marshall to go onto the final later that night. Perhaps Brodie was having an off night.
Nick’s opponent in the final would be Zak Sabbath, who downed promising rookie Eli Theseus in the other semi-final.
Next came a 12-man battle royal featuring a bunch of guys I’d never heard of, but I immediately made lil’ Andy Capp look-alike Tuffy Calhoon my favourite and was shattered when he fell...ahem, short. The eventual winner was Cadie Tre, but the big story was the split between heel faction The Millennials, with Luke Santamaria and "The Blue Chip Athlete" Dean Brady coming to blows before Tre eliminated them both.
I’m a sucker for battle royals and Royal Rumbles, and this was a fun affair, so congrats to everyone involved.
The last contest before intermission was a non-title match pitting heavyweight champ Matt “Grimm” Basso against Melbourne’s Adam Brooks. I told my friends that this would be the match of the night and I wasn’t wrong. These two tore the house down in a superb, fast-paced, hard-hitting bout. Hats off also to Grimm for his Game Of Thrones-ish gimmick, which is pretty damn awesome.
After the break came the tag team title match – The Rude Ones defending against Chris Basso and Davey Green – that was, surprisingly, a little disappointing. Sure, I spent the match chatting to a friend I hadn’t seen in 30 years, but if the action had been particularly engaging, I would have tuned back into proceedings. I can’t blame Chris Basso, because he’s always great, so I’ll point my fat finger of blame at the other three dudes. Anyway, the masked guys won, then got challenged and destroyed by The Savage Gentlemen in a surprise title change stemming from an angle on a previous show I’d missed. The ending was messed up ’cos the bell rang, then one of the Gentlemen hit one of the masked dudes with a belt RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REF, which should have been an automatic DQ. Then everyone pretended the bell hadn’t rung and they had a very brief match and the Gentlemen won. To be honest, it’s all a bit blurry, but the belts will mean way more now around the big fellas’ waists.
Next came the Strength Cup final, which was a good bout that saw Sabbath cheat to get the three-count over Armstrong. Both guys are very talented workers. Also, I like Sabbath’s Goth gimmick and I like Armstrong’s hair.
Now it was time for the main event for the RCW women’s championship and it was easily the SECOND-BEST MATCH on the card. The crowd came unglued for Demi Bennett, but there were few boos for Kellyanne, who is clearly the top women’s wrestler in Australia NOT signed by NXT.
The last time I saw Demi wrestle was as a rookie in PWWA in Parramatta four years ago. The change in her ring presence and skill level has been meteoric. These two ladies were brilliant: chain wrestling, hard chops, brawling in the crowd and so much more. Quite simply, they kicked arse and, in something of a shock, Demi retained her title. Afterwards, the roster came out to cheer Demi on as she gave a brief speech to the adoring crowd. Let’s hope she enjoys massive success overseas. With her in-ring abilities and undoubted charisma she should go far.
So that was Riot City Wrestling – it’s a fantastic promotion and Strength 2017 was a fantastic show. My two regrets are, firstly, that I can’t get to Adelaide more often to see RCW on a regular basis and, secondly, that Tuffy Calhoon wasn’t at the merch table to sign my photo.

RESULTS:

(RCW Strength 2017 @ Latvian Hall in Wayville, South Australia – 387): Strength Cup 2017 semi-final - Nick Armstrong b Brodie Marshall (w/Tyler Daniels); Strength Cup 2017 semi-final - Zak Sabbath b Eli Theseus; 12-man battle royal  won by Cadie Tre; Matt “Grimm” Basso b Adam Brooks; RCW Tag Team Title - The Rude Ones (Bulldog McKenzie & Marvel) (w/Venus ) (c) b Chris Basso & Davey Green; RCW Tag Team Title: The Savage Gentlemen (Marshall & Daniels) b The Rude Ones (c); Strength Cup 2017 final - Sabbath b Armstrong; RCW Women’s Title - Demi Bennett (c) b Kellyanne.

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