Boy, it feels good to be home.
The Prairie Wrestling Alliance returned to Edmonton on Saturday evening for PWA Fruition, the promotion’s last event in the Alberta capital until next month’s 18th-anniversary show at NAIT. It’s been a wild few months for the PWA, with the hiring of Thaddeus Archer III shifting the landscape of the promotion dramatically. Since the hiring of TA3, the PWA has been graced with a number of major returns, innovative matches booked, and an influx of new talent. As the first full-time commissioner since the days of Andy Anderson, Archer has more than lived up to his stellar reputation in his first days as Edmonton commish.
That being said, Saturday was no longer about major announcements or surprise debuts. As the Edmonton precursor to the 18th-Anniversary show, PWA Fruition was all about the in-ring action, and the promotion delivered in spades.
With less than a month until one of PWA’s biggest shows ever, there’s nary a minute to waste!
PWA Commonwealth Championship match - Shaun Moore© vs Aiden Adams
Two of the top talents in independent wrestling kicked off the show on Saturday night as Shaun Moore defended his PWA Commonwealth Championship against Aiden Adams of the Above Average Joes.
As a fan, it’s difficult to temper expectations when two talents of this magnitude square off. Both Moore and Adams have proven time and time again why they’re two of the best in Alberta, and it was evidenced yet again on Saturday night. Since winning the Commonwealth Championship from Mo Jabari in May, Moore has established himself as one of the “need to know” wrestlers of Western Canada. That’s not to say previous work wasn’t excellent; however, it seems as though he’s found another level since winning the title. He’s a pristine combination of power and speed, and frankly, there aren’t many individuals I’d give a legitimate shot against the Phoenix native.
That being said, if there’s anyone I’d think would give Moore a challenge, it’s Aiden Adams. While primarily known as one-half of the excellent Above Average Joes with Kenny Stryker, Adams is perhaps the most underrated singles wrestler in independent wrestling today. Much like Moore, he’s an excellent blend of size and strength, and while Moore may have the power advantage throughout the matchup, Adams is more than impressive. On top of it all, Adams is quite easily one of the most naturally charismatic individuals in the PWA, and I believe he’s poised for an absolutely monster 2019.
There’s no greater compliment this writer can give than to watch a match simply; however, that may be all the advice given here. The two put on an absolute clinic to kick off PWA Fruition, and if you’ve got the chance - I recommend PWA’s excellent Twitch channel - watch this one yourselves. You won’t regret it.
Kat Von Heez vs Zoë Sager vs Kylie Morgan
You’d be hard-pressed to describe this as a match, but that comes with no complaints whatsoever.
Frankly, it’s what’s to be expected when any of Kat Von Heez, Zoë Sager or Kylie Morgan step into the ring. All have varying in-ring styles, with Von Heez having a clear advantage in the match. It’s mentioned nearly every time one speaks of Kat Von Heez, but there’s absolutely no one like her in the Alberta independent scene. To this day, I’ve yet to see her outpowered; she’s simply that strong. Even in losses, Von Heez is dominant and rarely does an “L” come due to truly being defeated rather than simply luck. However, both Morgan and Sager are formidable opponents in their own right. Sager has especially improved in her few short months on the PWA roster, and did hold a slight advantage over Morgan in the sense she’s faced the monstrous Von Heez before. Talk about being thrown in the deep end; in her PWA debut, Morgan was tasked with taking down either Kat or the more experienced Sager. Not only that, but the triumvirate of women were accompanied to the ring by their various male counterparts; Body Break, the Above Average Joes and the League all stood ringside for the encounter - but not for long.
If you’d blinked, you’d have missed it. As soon as the match had started, it had broken down in the best possible way. For a time, nine individuals crowded the ring, with bodies flying absolutely everywhere. In the cacophony, the match was thrown out with Michael Allen Richard Clark hit a Diamond Cutter on Sager, immediately resulting in a no contest.
Colton Kelly vs. The Titan
In the evening’s third match, the Titan earned a chance at the leader of the Millennial Rebels, Colton Kelly.
One of the biggest honours I can bestow on a baddie is how easy they are to hate, and Colton Kelly makes you hate him in spades. Say what you will about the Millennial Icon, but the man is a hell of a heel. Entering the ring with Dr Kyoto, Kelly came through the curtain to a chorus of boos, and throughout the match, the PWA faithful didn’t let up.
The Titan is one big dude, guys. Standing at roughly 6’8, he’s grown incredibly in the ring since debuting at last year’s PWA Resolution Rumble. His size is, scarily, equalled by his speed, and he used it to keep Kelly on the ropes early.
It has to be said that Kelly, for as much as the crowd loves to hate him, is one of the smartest wrestlers in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance. Much like his Millennial Rebels compatriot Kenneth Anthony later in the evening, Kelly rolled out of the ring multiple times to begin the match to play mind games with the giant. Sometimes, it worked - but when it didn’t, it really didn’t. When the Titan got his massive hands on Kelly, the Millenial Icon took an absolute beating.
However, it was Dr Kyoto who would prove to be a difference maker in this match. As the Titan looked to put his opponent away, a distraction from Kyoto allowed the Millennial Icon to take advantage for a brief time. When he connected, it was devastating; as especially painful-looking senton off the top rope immediately comes to mind. It’s a testament that Kelly was able to keep the Titan down at all, albeit not for long. However, the Titan was able to recover and hit a huge side slam that left Kelly reeling.
While the move was massive, it wasn’t enough to prevent Kelly from taking a walk to the back and a resulting loss by count out. While disappointing, it’s not entirely unjustified; would you choose to stay in the ring with a six-foot-eight monster?
I didn’t think so.
The League (Davey O’Doyle & Brayden Parsons) vs Mo Jabari & Maxton Flexwell
Some have called them Flexual Chocolate, but they truly are The People’s Team.
Is there really another way to describe it? It may be an unofficial moniker - and ripped directly from the mouth of the Rock - but it’s hard to oversell how popular both Mo Jabari and Maxton Flexwell are in Edmonton, Alberta. From the second Jabari’s entrance hit, the team was wildly cheered. As someone who’s lucky enough to have watched Jabari wrestle countless times, it’s easy to see why he’s beloved in the PWA. While I’m not quite as experienced with watching Flexwell, the same can be said of the former referee; the two ooze charisma and both have the in-ring skill to back up their confidence.
However, what Jabari and Flexwell have in confidence, the League more than doubles. Davey O’Doyle and Brayden Parsons captured the PWA Tag Team Championships at the start of the year, and since then the two have run roughshod over the entire division. The two compliment each other perfectly; while neither lack in either department, there’s a clear power/speed dynamic between the larger O’Doyle and Parsons.
It was O’Doyle and Jabari that kicked the match off on Saturday and from the get-go the neither was able to gain an advantage over the other. While Jabari’s speed allowed him to avoid a number of O’Doyle’s monstrous blows, he wasn’t able to avoid all of them in what was an incredibly evenly matched first few minutes.
That all changed, however, after Parsons tagged in and demanded to face Flexwell. It was then that the League truly started to establish their tag-team dominance. While Jabari and Flexwell are individually terrific, the League simply have far more experience together and sometimes, it showed. The match’s turning point came early; as Flexwell ran the ropes, O’Doyle cleverly kneed him in the back, which allowed Parsons to corner his opponent. From that point on, it was all League. Flexwell’s athleticism allowed him to gain short spurts of momentum - including an excellent crossbody off the top rope - but the League’s numbers advantage rendered him helpless for a good portion of the match until finally able to hit “Kid Chocolate” with a hot tag.
There are few on the PWA roster as dangerous as a fired-up Mo Jabari. As soon as he hit the ring, he dominated both Parsons and the legal man Davey O’Doyle. Despite the League’s dominance throughout the majority of the match, Jabari gave his team a fighting chance, and even looked to have the match closed out after a picture-perfect superkick to the chin of O’Doyle. A lesser man would have been left laying; however, the bruiser was able to kick out at two - a shocking moment that seemed to suck the momentum out of the room. It speaks to O’Doyle’s gumption that he was able to not only kick out but pick up a victory on the evening after Brayden Parsons’ interference on a pinfall attempt. One massive O’Doyle Bomb later, and it was over for Jabari and Flexwell.
Despite obvious disappointment on both man’s part, it was excellent to see Jabari raise Flexwell’s hand following the match. The two were dynamic together as a team, and with a bit more experience together the two could potentially be a dominant tag team in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance.
PWA Mayhem Championship Match - Kenneth Anthony© w/Dr Kyoto vs. “The Thickness” Reid Matthews
The PWA Mayhem Championship was at stake in the evening’s fifth matchup, as Kenneth Anthony looked to fend off a challenge from former stablemate “The Thickness” Reid Matthews.
When talking about the major success stories in Albertan wrestling over 2018, the meteoric rise of the Thickness has to be near the top of most lists. Since being ruthlessly betrayed by the Millennial Rebels at last year’s 17th Anniversary show, Matthews has been on a quest for vengeance that’s built him into one of the most popular men in independent wrestling. Conversely, the betrayal at the hands of the Rebels has left Anthony, Colton Kelly and Dr Kyoto as three of the most despised men in the industry. It set the scene for an electric matchup on Saturday and one that wouldn’t disappoint.
The match started with mind games, as Kenneth Anthony exited the ring immediately following the opening bell. Much like Colton Kelly had earlier in the evening, it looked as though Anthony was primed to take a walk and accept a disqualification to retain his championship. However, with Thickness’ attention focused elsewhere, Colton Kelly attacked the King of Thick Style and allowed Anthony to hit a devastating spinning heel kick that completely halted the Thickness’ momentum. However, while the Millennial Rebels were able to utilize the numbers advantage for a short while, the Thickness was able to counter a rolling cutter into a massive stunner that left Anthony reeling.
It was all Thickness from that point on. That’s not to say the Rebels’ didn’t make a fight of it; the trio was able to prevent Matthews from winning the match a number of times, including a genuinely shocking moment when Colton Kelly himself put his body on the line to save his stablemate in Anthony. Not only did he take a vicious spear from the Thickness, but both he and Anthony proceeded to lay a beating on Matthews. The team looked poised to put Thickness through a table for the victory - at least until the monstrous Titan made his presence known and interfered on Thickness’ behalf.
From that point on, it was almost inevitable we would have a new champion, and so we did. In a triumphant moment, the Thickness was crowned the new PWA Mayhem Champion, and the crowd absolutely erupted. It was a genuine feel-good moment for the PWA faithful - one that would be topped mere seconds later.
Following the match, Matthews collected a microphone and laid down a challenge to his former friend, Colton Kelly. After a battle of words, it was made official: Kelly would challenge the Thickness for the PWA Mayhem Championship at the 18th Anniversary Show in a Last Man Standing match!
Bobby Sharp vs. “The Omen” Gabriel vs Michael Allen Richard Clark
It’s sometimes difficult to get a crowd back into the action following an intermission. That certainly wasn’t the case on Saturday.
When first looking at the match, one would assume it was a handicap match by default. As the team of Body Break, Michael Allen Richard Clark and Bobby Sharp wreaked havoc for the better part of 2018. Multiple opportunities at the PWA Tag Team Championships resulted in the team ending Team Hall of Fame’s run as titleholders in October, and the duo looked poised to align on Saturday in an effort to become the man to challenge Jeff Cobb at the 18th Anniversary show.
Standing in their way was “the Omen” Gabriel. Returning from injury for the first time in three months, the PWA standout bore new entrance gear and an outstanding new entrance. One thing that hadn’t changed, however, was his popularity; from the moment the lights dimmed at the Northgate Lions Centre, the crowd was electric. The Omen entered with a different level of focus than previously seen; perhaps it was the circumstances surrounding his opponents, but from the moment the lights came back on Gabriel was on fire. It seemed as though he was out to prove that despite the technical numbers disadvantage and his recent injury, he was still one of the best in the PWA, and he proved it in spades.
As expected, both Sharp and Clark were aligned for the majority of the match. From quickly rolling out of the ring at the sound of the bell to the tandem offence they displayed against Gabriel, either one of the Body Break members genuinely looked poised to win the right to face Jeff Cobb despite Gabriel’s dominance in the ring. The two worked perfectly together - for a time.
However, it was inevitable that the two would clash once it was realized that only one of them could win. While the two combined to leave the Omen laying, neither could decide who would earn the decisive pinfall. As the two both attempted to pin Gabriel, Hall-of-Fame referee Michael “The Fitz” Fitzpatrick ruled that two men could not combine for a winning pin and from there the action completely broke down. While the two attempted to keep their alliance intact, it was impossible for either not to break up each pinfall attempt.
As the tension rose, so too did Gabriel’s chances at victory. In between Body Breaks’ bickering, the Omen busted out some of his signature offence and absolutely decimated Sharp and Clark. The Omen’s offensive prowess seemed to spark Sharp and Clark into teaming together again; however, it proved to be the two’s downfall. As Sharp held the Omen, MARC looked to set up for a signature cutter; however, Gabriel was able to avoid the attack and shift to allow Clark to hit his erstwhile teammate. From there, it was a matter of a single body slam and a three-count to secure the win - and a date with Jeff Cobb - for the Omen.
Interestingly, both Sharp and Clark teased tension at the end of the match, something that this writer hasn’t observed before. However, the two quickly hugged and made up before Thaddeus Archer III made his entrance. After a brief back-and-forth, it was announced that a nine-person intergender match between the League, Body Break, and the Above Average Joes for the PWA Tag Team Championships would take place at the 18th Anniversary show!
“Spaceman” Beri Grayson vs. The Nightmare
“The Spaceman” Beri Grayson battled Nightmare #36 on Saturday night in an outstanding technical in-ring classic.
Okay, maybe not - but you can’t deny it was entertaining. It wasn’t Greyson’s convincing victory that would remain in this fan’s mind following the match, though it was dominant; it was simply comedy wrestling done right. Any time the Nightmare appears - and in any iteration - it’s a treat, and Saturday was no different. However, despite the abundance of comedy in the match, it’s pretty cool to see the improvement in the Spaceman in his few months with the PWA. Much like the aforementioned Zoe Sager, he’s come miles in the past few months with the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, and I’m personally excited to see where he goes from this point forward.
The Western Lions (Michael Richard Blais & Brandon Van Danielson) vs. Sheik Akbar Shabaz & The PWA Original Marky
Saturday’s highly-anticipated main event featured four of the most talented individuals in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance facing off, with the PWA Original Marky and PWA Champion Sheik Akbar Shabaz teaming up to face the Western Lions in tag team action.
First and foremost, it’s excellent to see the PWA Original back in the promotion. Marky remains one of the most popular wrestlers the promotion to grace the promotion, and nothing was lost in his time away. Teaming with the PWA Champion may have marked the PWA Original’s first tag-team action in Edmonton since his return, but he wasn’t let off lightly in facing the Western Lions. Both Brandon Van Danielson and Michael Richard Blais have become the standard-bearers for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, and despite Marky and Sheik’s veteran experience, it wasn’t a role they were willing to relinquish on Saturday evening.
Early on, the name of the game was to keep Marky down. The Lions are the epitome of what a tag team represents, and both MRB and BVD were effective in not only keeping Marky grounded but not allowing him to make a tag to Sheik Akbar Shabaz. Even when Marky was able to tag his partner into the match, the Sheik was ruthlessly worked over by the Western Lions. It speaks to Shabaz’s mental and physical fortitude that he was able to not only able to avoid a pinfall but get a bit of offence in on the Lions. (For reference, my show notes directly read “Sheik’s a tough bastard). After the beating he took, it was impressive in-and-of-itself that he was able to make the tag to Marky, nonetheless, continue to wrestle following.
From the second the PWA Original tagged in, the in-ring action was electric. Marky’s innovative offence looked right at home back in a PWA ring, and an errant lariat from BVD to MRB allowed the Sheik and the Original to commence a beat down on the Western Lions.
While Marky and Shabaz looked terrific as a team, it was only a matter of time before the 18th Anniversary show opponents began to bicker. It all started with Marky blindly tagging in while Sheik looked to end the match with a Camel Toss. Shortly thereafter, Shabaz returned the favour while the PWA Original looked to hit his finisher. As the two bickered. BVD struck and shoved Sheik into Marky, forcing a breakdown in the action. Though the cacophony, Blais returned to the ring with a chair and forced a disqualification for the Lions. While the battle may have been lost, BVD and MRB made their ways to the back as Marky and the Sheik brawled, further incapacitating themselves prior to next month’s TLC match at NAIT. The show ended with Marky holding the PWA Championship over Sheik Shabaz after a massive top rope leg drop.
If you weren’t already convinced to head to NAIT on March 23rd, this show would have done it. Frankly, it was an excellent card from front-to-back and built a ton of intrigue around the 18th Anniversary show.
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