By: Reece Hooker
Special to POST Wrestling
Game Changer Wrestling made its debut in Australia, partnering with Melbourne-based independent Renegades of Wrestling to hit three cities in three nights in a whirlwind tour.
Four championships were put on the line across Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane on a tour that featured high-flying, hardcore weaponry (ranging from GCW signatures like wooden doors and cinder blocks to inflatable crocodiles) and a little romance for good measure.
The well-attended tour wasn’t without incident. An already-depleted GCW line-up, missing the likes of world champion Blake Christian, Nick Gage, and Masha Slamovich, lost Gringo Loco to injury on the second night of the tour in Melbourne in a scary spot gone wrong during his match against Caveman Ugg.
During an attempted springboard to the outside, Gringo Loco appeared to slip and strike his head hard on the floor. The match was waived off and Loco was helped to the back and did not wrestle on the following night’s show in Brisbane.
He attended his scheduled Brisbane meet-and-greet session and the following day posted videos on Instagram from a theme park on the Gold Coast.
The match against Caveman Ugg, ruled a no contest, was not included in the FITE TV broadcast, which was uploaded the following morning.
Renegades of Wrestling were also missing its tag team champions, The Velocities, who were in London to compete at RevPro’s 11th Anniversary Show. Jake Andrewartha, who was set to defend his WrestleRock Championship in Melbourne, was replaced by Hector Jones.
Despite the challenges, each company boasted a strong line-up of headlining acts, supplemented by a cast of local standouts.
GCW brought El Hijo Del Vikingo back to Australia for a trio of dazzling AAA Mega Championship defenses, while beloved favorites Joey Janela, EFFY, Allie Katch, and Maki Itoh were hits on each stop of the tour.
Charli Evans and Steph De Lander came home to fly the GCW flag, with Evans’ partner Everett Connors tagging along for two matches.
Renegades of Wrestling were also armed with some of Australia’s best talent: new champion Caveman Ugg got his title reign off on the right foot with defenses in each city, and breakout young faction Ambush (Aysha, Jarvis, Murdoch & Emman Azman) all had good showings.
Below are selected highlights from each stop of the GCW vs. Renegades of Wrestling Australian tour:
Sydney, August 25th: Aysha (c) vs. Steph De Lander vs. Lena Kross (Renegades of Wrestling Women’s Championship)
— Australian Wrestling Cards (@AusWresCards) August 25, 2023
Steph De Lander has hit GCW like a hurricane since debuting as an ally to Matt Cardona. And, although their work together continues to be headline news, De Lander is making her mark in GCW as a standout singles competitor, too.
On the tour’s first night, De Lander had a prime opportunity to secure her first championship gold since departing WWE (not counting the – in the words of Charli Evans – “fucking fake” Women’s Internet Championship adorning De Lander’s waist).
She was pitted against friend and rival, Newcastle-based powerhouse Lena Kross, and defending Renegades of Wrestling Women’s Champion Aysha, who took the title from Shazza McKenzie in her final match before relocating to the United States.
“First Class” Aysha doesn’t usually project as a sympathetic figure – often blasting her opponents with champagne bottles while her Ambush stablemates run interference – but it is difficult not to feel a little sorry as the diminutive women’s champion stood across from her two six-foot tall opponents.
Aysha couldn’t even move De Lander or Kross in the match’s opening sequence, dumped from the ring after a futile flurry of strikes failed to budge either opponent.
De Lander and Kross instead focused on fighting one another, as Aysha survived the early stages by picking her spots – nearly poaching an early win with a roll-up on a distracted Steph De Lander.
This set the tone for an entertaining sprint: an evasive Aysha would duck and weave, playing her opponents off against one another and striking selectively. In one burst, Aysha landed a combination on De Lander and parlayed it into a kick on Kross and a slide to safety.
But every time Aysha faced extended time in front of either opponent, she wound up tossed or flattened. Lena Kross punished the champion with a vicious gourd buster and sliding Snap German suplex from the middle rope, and Aysha also came off worst from a Tower of Doom spot which saw De Lander powerbomb her opponents from the top rope.
De Lander, unable to secure a pinfall, brought her Women’s Internet Championship into the ring to use as a weapon. An opportunist Aysha retrieved her title belt, too. Lena Kross, the only woman without a weapon in hand, sprung to life – ducking a belt shot from Aysha and blasting De Lander with a big boot.
Before Kross could capitalize on the opening, Aysha struck first – rolling up Kross with a handful of tights, stealing a win, and escaping Sydney with her championship intact.
Honorable mention: Robbie Eagles vs. Everett Connors vs. Lochy Hendricks – a fast-paced triple threat led by Eagles, which brought out the best in his dance partners. Eagles, pissed off and verbally fighting a heckler, duked it out with a colorful Connors (clad in a vintage Ferrari race suit) and the delightfully delusional Hendricks, “The Aspirationist”, who reveled in the crowd’s disdain.
— RydeenBomb (@RydeenBomb) August 25, 2023
Melbourne, August 26th: El Hijo Del Vikingo © vs. Emman Azman (AAA Mega Championship)
— Nick Galea (@NJGalea) August 26, 2023
It’s hard to pick just one Vikingo recommendation from the tour because each outing was a highlight in its own way: his Sydney clash with Gringo Loco might get the highest star rating and Brisbane’s main event against Mitch Ryder had some spectacular spots, but his Melbourne showdown with “The Golden Tiger” Emman Azman may be the most memorable of the tour.
At just 22 years old, Azman is already one of Australia’s preeminent cruiserweights. In his adopted hometown, the Malaysian-born Azman went blow-for-blow with one of the world’s best luchadores.
It’s rare to see Vikingo have the size advantage in a match-up, but against Azman, the Mexican superstar dominated the tale of the tape: he was taller, faster, stronger, and more experienced. Perhaps in a bid to compensate, Azman brought three of his Ambush stablemates along to ringside, who interfered early to wrest control away from Vikingo.
But as the match wore on and the intensity picked up, Azman’s entourage receded into the background and his villainy became an after-thought. Instead, Vikingo set a breakneck pace and Azman dared to try to match it.
Every time Azman got the upper hand, Vikingo would flip the situation with an extraterrestrial turn of athleticism: at one point, escaping from the corner by sliding through the turntable, lawn-darting back off the ropes shoulder-first at another.
But every time it seemed Azman would wilt, “The Golden Tiger” stepped up. In the match’s closing stretch, Azman strung together a sequence that put him on the cusp of AAA Mega Championship glory: a tornado DDT into a Turbo Jetpack (a nod to his mentor-turned-rival Robbie Eagles) and his finishing “KL Gold” running elbow.
Vikingo kicked out in a near-fall, but Azman went right back on the attack and ascended the turntable.
It took just a flash of arrogance for Azman’s championship pursuit to unravel. A moment to gloat on the top turnbuckle left the window ajar for Vikingo to spring to his feet. In a blink, Azman was careening to the mat in a swinging side slam. From there, Vikingo never left up, sealing the victory with a stunning 054 splash from the outside middle rope.
Honorable mention: Joey Janela & JXT vs. KrackerJak & Gore — Doors, a staple gun and a bed of nails were among the toys that came out in Melbourne’s hardcore main event. Australian legend KrackerJak and brother Gore played the perfect cartoonish foils for Janela, a GCW heart and soul favorite, and JXT, wrestling his first match back after rehabbing a torn ACL.
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Brisbane, August 27th: Caveman Ugg © vs. Solomun Blackwell (Renegades of Wrestling Championship)
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Caveman Ugg is a main event fixture on the Australian scene but may be familiar with international fans through his cup of coffee in PWG pre-pandemic, which included a 2019 Battle of Los Angeles loss to Brody King.
This tour was Ugg’s first appearance in Renegades of Wrestling since dethroning the promotion’s inaugural champion Rat Daddy in early August. After facing GCW talent across the first two nights, Caveman Ugg took on Perth’s Solomun Blackwell, one of the fastest-rising stars in the country.
Early in the match, Blackwell leveraged his pace and technical prowess to get the ascendency on the hulking champion. Blackwell, a student of WWE Cruiserweight Classic participant Damien Slater, held down early proceedings with a chain of restrictive holds that slowed Caveman Ugg.
But as soon as Ugg broke free of Blackwell’s binds, the champion seized complete control. What followed is a tried and true wrestling formula that never gets tired: a big man throws a smaller man very high in the air, over and over.
Every time Ugg steamrolled Blackwell, the resilient challenger got back up. Blackwell persisted until a chance presented itself – Ugg, hoss with hops with the mold of a young Samoa Joe, came off the ropes with designs on diving through the middle rope to Blackwell on the outside.
Blackwell, reading the play, got his knees up and blocked the dive. Pouncing on the opening, Blackwell brought a chair to the ring and swung wildly on the champion until the chair broke.
The frenzy only yielded a two-count, but Solomun Blackwell’s confidence grew along with the crowd’s noise. Even as Ugg got back into the match, deadlifting Blackwell from the mat to block a Destroyer, the challenger kept coming, uncorking a snap German suplex.
Caveman Ugg, frustrated and unable to put Blackwell down, retrieved a door from under the ring (a strange choice for a prehistoric caveman, sure, but it’s wrestling). Serenaded by dueling chants of “Bunnings Warehouse” and “Mitre 10” (Australian hardware stores, for those wondering), Ugg tried to blast Blackwell through the door with a shotgun dropkick but the wood had no give. A follow-up cannonball failed to break the door, and Ugg wound up dumping the uncooperative weapon to the floor.
Caveman Ugg sat on the precipice of victory, holding a limp Blackwell in position for a Crucifix Powerbomb. But a last-minute head-scissors from Blackwell left him one last gasp. A Satellite DDT put Blackwell in the right spot to drop his knee pad and line up Ugg for a running Bazooka Knee, but it wasn’t enough to secure the pinfall.
Desperation set in as both men dug deep. Blackwell went to the top rope for an elbow drop that missed, Ugg retaliated with a middle rope moonsault that found no target, and Blackwell, with a final roll of the dice, tried once more from the top rope.This time, the veteran instinct of Caveman Ugg shone through and he was in position to catch the leaping challenger, spiking him down with a Boulder Drive and keeping his Renegades of Wrestling Championship reign alive for another night.
Honorable mention: Maki Itoh vs. Allie Katch – Allie Katch comes out the curtain as a fan favorite but is showered by boos by the time the opening bell rings. Such is the magnetic appeal of Maki Itoh. The wonderfully unpredictable Brisbane crowd do their best to keep two GCW stars on their toes, but Katch and Itoh are two of the best at rolling with the punches and keep the entire Eaton Hills Ballroom raucous for the entirety of their match.
— Brian / ブライアン (@FlyinBrianC89) August 28, 2023
GCW returns to CHICAGO on Friday, September 1 for #GCWSayYouWill!
Nick Gage vs Vikingo
Blake Christian vs Francesco Akira
Joey Janela vs Lash Leroux
Rina/Masha vs Macizos
Bussy vs Violence is Forever
— GameChangerWrestling (@GCWrestling_) August 18, 2023
Renegades of Wrestling will return to Essendon on November 11 for Breakthrough, with Robbie Eagles, Aysha and Caveman Ugg already announced.
Sydney, August 25th – UNSW Roundhouse
*Robbie Eagles over Everett Connors & Lochy Hendricks
*KrackerJak & Gore over Backman & Jack Pain
*Allie Katch & EFFY over Frankie B & Nikki Van Blair
*Renegades of Wrestling Championship: Caveman Ugg © over Joey Janela
*Renegades of Wrestling Women’s Championship: Aysha © over Lena Kross and Steph De Lander
*Maki Itoh over Charli Evans
*AAA Mega Championship: El Hijo Del Vikingo © over Gringo Loco
Melbourne, August 26th – Melbourne Pavilion
*Scramble Match: Fun Time Phil over Hector Jones, Jarvis, Levi Nixon, Anth Cava, and Murdoch
*Charli Evans over Steph De Lander and Allie Katch
*EFFY over Lochy Hendricks
*Renegades of Wrestling Championship: Caveman Ugg © vs. Gringo Loco ruled a no contest
*Renegades of Wrestling Women’s Championship: Aysha © over Maki Itoh
*AAA Mega Championship: El Hijo Del Vikingo © over Emman Azman
*Joey Janela & JXT over Gore & KrackerJak
Brisbane, August 27th – Eaton Hills Ballroom
*EFFY over Cockroach and Bobby Bishop
*Maki Itoh over Allie Katch
*Pro Wrestling League Championship: Outback Adam © over Joey Janela
*Renegades of Wrestling Championship: Caveman Ugg © over Solomun Blackwell
*Steph De Lander & Punch Drunk AJ Istria over Charli Evans & Everett Connors
*AAA Mega Championship: El Hijo Del Vikingo © over Mitch Ryder
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