Southern Pro Wrestling (SPW) in New Zealand is the premier wrestling promotion in the country. They’ve seen talent like Travis Banks and TK Cooper get their start here before going to the UK, and have had the likes of Will Ospreay and Bea Priestly come through fairly consistently. Founded in 2015, they’ve grown quickly. This past July they put on the largest independent wrestling show in New Zealand in 27 years, seeing an attendance of 1,248 at the ILT Stadium in Invercargill, Southland for the 2018 edition of the Southern Rumble. All in the all, the show was a huge success, and got some buzz from wrestling fans around the world. The production of the show was top notch, and much better than a promotion of their size has any right to be. The stage, entrance screens, and the cameras were all sleek, as was the video editing after the show. The entire presentation felt closer to WWE than PWG in terms of production value. The booking, as usual for SPW NZ, was incredibly smart. The big shock of the show was surprising while making perfect sense with the story that was being told. And if you watch it on Powerslam TV like I did, you have the option of watch the whole show, or select a single match (with times listed next to each) as well as a short blurb about the show with the card rundown. The show wasn’t perfect—no show is—but it was such an impressive accomplishment, that Southern Pro Wrestling New Zealand must be in the conversation when discussing the worldwide indies. Let’s take a look at the actual show itself:
It opened with a tremendous “History in the Making” (the tagline of the show) video package, the first sign of a well put together show. Rhys Matthewson, a comedian from New Zealand, was the host for the evening, and started the show with a couple jokes before we moved on to a great package to build up the first match:
“Hooligan” Marcus Kool vs. Will Ospreay
It sounds like no big deal, but putting the wrestlers’ names in a graphic at the bottom of the screen when they come out really is a nice touch, and makes it so much easier for new viewers to get to know the performers. After the bell, the two Brits go back and forth to start things off before Kool took the advantage with a couple of dives. Ospreay attempts to comeback with a back handspring kick and a top rope 619, but gets cutoff by Kool in the process. Eventually the two start trading some cool moves back and forth, including a couple of tilt a whirl DDT’s, before Ospreay goes full strong style on Kool. Opsreay challenges Kool to chop and kick him, and doesn’t back down, bringing some fighting spirit to Southland. Ospreay had a crazy sell of an Unprettier by Kool, nearly doing a headstand in the process. After all the back and forth and changes in momentum, Kool eventually catches Ospreay with a roll up, and Kool looks as surprised as Ospreay afterwards. This match was enjoyable overall, although Kool’s selling isn’t my cup of tea, but he pulled off some really cool high spots, and had some good heel character work with the fans early on. Ospreay, as always, was on point, and truly is one of the best in the world.
“Hooligan” Marcus Kool def. Will Ospreay (16:50)
We move on to an interview with Will Power, who has drawn # 1 in the Southern Rumble match later on, but reminds us that he has still has his Fight for Gold Briefcase (it functions just like a Money in the Bank briefcase), before we go back to the ring.
Bea Priestley vs. Tenille Dashwood
Tenille Dashwood, an Australian, attacks before the bell, while Bea Priestley, a New Zealand native, was posing with an All Blacks rugby jersey, so they got patriotic heat early. Dashwood proceeded to choke Priestly with the jersey, but the referee finally got them separated, and Priestley said she was ok to continue, so the bell rang we officially got underway. Dashwood went after the knee early, and was the heat for the entirety of the second act of the match. Priestley finally begun her comeback with a codebreaker to Dashwood’s arm, and pin pointed her attack there. Dashwood grabbed her in a tarantula to cut her off, but Priestly kept fighting. Dashwood though was too much in the end, and pinned her after a Spotlight Kick. The match built well and got better as it went along, despite a couple of sloppy spots, and Priestley’s focused attack on the arm was a clever comeback angle.
Tenille Dashwood def. Bea Priestley (13:45)
Afterwards, Dashwood cut an anti-New Zealand promo.
We then get a video package detailing the history of NZXT (Mason Daniels and Michael Richards) and the CruiserMates (Liam Fury and Falcon Kid), the first two and only two SPW NZ Tag Team Champions. The teams were 1-1 against each other going in to this with roll up finishes both times, so a 2 Out of 3 Falls stipulation was added. In this day and age, logical booking goes a long way, so this stip gets a thumbs up from me.
SPW NZ Tag Team Championship Match: CruiserMates (c) vs. NZXT
CruiserMates take the early advantage, who get a pin fall in just a few minutes after a Shooting Star Press on Mason Daniels. Michael Richards, however, was displeased with his partner, and threw him out of the ring after the fall. Inversely, NZXT gets the second fall just a couple minutes later via a neckbreaker. So early on we get to the final fall, and that’s where the story of the match really picks up. Playing off of Richards’ actions after the first fall, NZXT began having problems, and those problems continued to escalate throughout the match. Eventually, Daniels mistakenly hit Richards with a flying knee, and allowed Falcon Kid to make the tag. They still where able to get heat on Fury, but ultimately their disunity was too much, and the Cruisermates hit a double coast to coast for the finish, and retained the SPW NZ Tag Team Championships. The match was good, despite a couple of miscues in the ring, and all four guys showed some spark. The match would have benefitted from a bit more allotted time, but looking at the time timing of the rest of the show it made sense.
CruiserMates def. NZXT to retain the SPW NZ Tag Team Championships
Next, they play a fantastic video on the history of SPW NZ, working with the “History in the Making” theme of the night.
Afterwards, the special inter-promotional match between Melbourne City Wrestling’s Heavyweight Champion Gino Gambino and a Southern Pro Wrestling original, T-Rex. Both men are big boys, so it was going to be more of a hoss fight from the get-go. When Mr. Juicy (Gambino) entered the ring, he grabbed a mic, and asked everyone to stand for the Australian National Anthem. In Invercargill, New Zealand.
Gino Gambino vs. T-Rex
T-Rex’s music cut it off, and the Gambino looked aghast. It started off with a shoulder block contest between the two, before it spilled outside and became a brawl. Once it got back in the ring, Mr. Juicy hit Rex with a bare butt stinkface. T-Rex tried to comeback, but Juicy cut him off with a piledriver. T-Rex though, was able to fight back with a suplex, and finally hit a spine buster for the win. This match was fun, and really over with the kids. Gambino, who’se been a babyface for most of his career and only turned heel a few months ago, is a really entertaining bad guy.
T-Rex def. Gino Gambino (13:15)
Before the championship match, we’re treated to a sublime promo package, detailing JK Moody’s and Kane Khan’s history. In short, these two were a tag team called the Deadly Sins, and they debuted together at Southern Rumble 2016. At Southern Rumble 2017, they were the last two men in the Southern Rumble match, with JK Moody won, earning him a title shot at the October show. At that show, called Halloween Haunting, JK Moody won the SPW NZ Heavyweight Championship. Khan, who has won a Number One Contender Match earlier in the night, came out to celebrate with his tag team partner. Moody, feeling Khan was trying to steal the spotlight for himself, attacked Khan, and turned heel in the process. Their title match was in March of this year, at Fight for Gold, where their title bout was ruled a No Contest, because Will Power, who had earlier in the night won the Fight for Gold Briefcase, came down to the ring and attacked both men, but decided to not cash in. So it’s all come to a TLC, where it can’t end in a No Contest, and there must be a winner.
TLC Match for the SPW NZ Heavyweight Championship: JK Moody (c) vs. Kane Khan
Kane Khan is over as hell. The people freaking love him, and he oozes babyface charisma. As both a comic book fan and an Arrow fan, I really dug his Deathstroke mask that we wore to the ring. Once in the ring, they play a brief video showing all the previous champions (somewhat similar to what New Japan does). The bell rings, and the two go at it. Lots of counters early on, as they know each other very well. Their gear even added to the story: Khan wore Deadly Sins colors (black and yellow) while Moody wore all white, showing that Khan stayed loyal while Moody is the one that changed. Moody gets the early advantage by chucking a chair at Khan, and works him over some. Khan was able to turn things around when he caught one of Moody’s chair shots and gave him some of his own medicine. Thankfully, Khan proceeded to do what only a babyface should do: get the first table (tables always get cheered when they’re pulled out, so only babyfaces should pull out the first one, as it’s the more over than the succeeding tables). But unfortunately for Khan, Moody successful used the table, as he used an AA from the apron to outside through a table on the challenger. Khan, however, was able to get back at him, by spinebustering Moody through a set up chair. The two actually do some wrestling that doesn’t involve furniture, which is refreshing in a TLC match. Eventually though, Khan was able to hit a superplex off of a ladder through a table on the champ, which was enough to keep Moody down while Khan ascended and grabbed the SPW NZ Heavyweight Championship. This match was great. A little sloppy at times, but both men in their low 20’s, and have such a bright future ahead of them. These guys will be the next two performers from New Zealand to make it big in a major promotion.
Khan Kane def. JK Moody to win the SPW NZ Heavyweight Championship (27:21)
Hold the phone. Will Power’s music hits, and he comes down with his Fight for Gold Briefcase, which he cashes in.
SPW Heavyweight Championship Match: Kane Khan (c) vs. Will Power
Power hits two moves, the second being his finisher ATG (codebreaker), and gets the pin. After all Khan has been through, he loses his title like this. Honestly, this surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. Power was injected in this storyline back in March, and it only made sense that his teased cash in would pay off at Khan’s and Moody’s apparent blow off. Great booking, and great planning ahead.
Will Power def. Kane Khan to win the SPW NZ Heavyweight Championship (0:51)
It’s now time for the Southern Rumble match.
The two real life owners and trainers of SPW NZ, T-Rex and Marcus Kool, start off as entrants # 1 and # 2 respectively. The Rumble continues on these kinds of matches typically do, until Rhys Matthewson enters in at # 9. Once in the ring, he decides this was a mistake, and immediately eliminates himself. Once we get both members of NZXT in the match—Mason Daniels and Michael Richards—it’s clear that their beef isn’t settle, and that this looks to be the end of NZXT. Mr. Juicy Gino Gambino is also in the match, and apparently one bare butt stinkface wasn’t enough, so he gives a few more throughout this match. Khan also enters the match at # 17, and JK Moody enters at # 19. The final four in the match are Kool, T-Rex, Moody, and Khan, which is really cool. This felt like a recognition of the change in the change in guard at the top of the card, as these four men represent the first two generations of SPW New Zealand. Furthermore, Khan and Moody even work together, pulling out some Deadly Sins offense, and they don’t even turn on each other! But Moody was eliminated, followed by Kool and finally T-Rex, giving Khan the win. I would have switched T-Rex and Kool in elimination order, because I think it would have looked better for the babyface Khan to eliminate a heel to win the match instead of a babyface. Nonetheless, it was a great moment for Khan who earned another shot at his belt.
Kane Khan wins the Southern Rumble Match (46:46)
Overall, this show is so significant to New Zealand wrestling. A stadium show that sold over 1,248 tickets is such an accomplishment on its own, but the way this show was marketed, produced, and presented, really made it feel big time, and honestly its that little stuff that goes a long way in creating new fans.