The Prairie Wrestling Alliance is always a sure bet to deliver an excellent show; however, even PWA owner Kurt Sorochan has to be wondering how the promotion will top their latest outing.

March 23rd saw the PWA return to the NAIT gymnasium for their 18th-Anniversary Show, their first event at the venue since last year’s Night of Champions. Former PWA star and WWE tag team champion Tyson Kidd was in attendance for the show, with Ring of Honor’s Jeff Cobb set to defend his World Television Championship against “The Omen” Gabriel. Reid Matthews was set to end his long-standing feud with former Millennial Rebels stablemate Colton Kelly in a Last Man Standing match. A Tables, Ladders and Chair main event promised to be one of the most exciting matches in the promotion’s history. With nearly 1,000 people in attendance by this writers count, the stage was set for a hell of a night, and Prairie Wrestling Alliance – as always – delivered in spades.

As always, we recap!

Kenneth Anthony vs. The Titan

Poor, poor Kenneth Anthony.

How else can you describe it when a match lasts roughly one minute? Entering the ring accompanied by Dr Kyoto and full of bravado, Anthony quickly grabbed a microphone and completely berated Edmonton, ripping off a Connor McDavid jersey to reveal a (backwards) Calgary Flames uniform underneath. Amidst a chorus of boos, the Millennial Rebel promised to not only defeat his opponent in the Titan but in his words, “knock him out with one punch”.

That, however, was not the case.

In just over a year with the PWA, the Titan has established himself as the resident monster of the promotion; weighing in at 310 pounds, the giant has grown from simply being a powerful big man to a genuine threat in the ring. He’s as agile as they come for someone who looks to be about 6’8 and has proved to be a more than formidable opponent for much stronger men in the past. While Anthony is able to compensate for the lack of strength with his in-ring awareness, he simply was no match for the Titan on Saturday. After a brief flurry, Titan hit a massive side slam to his opponent for a quick three-count.

PWA Commonwealth Championship Match: Shaun Moore vs. “Kid Chocolate” Mo Jabari vs. Spaceman Beri Greyson vs. El Asesino vs. Maxton Flexwell vs. Nightmare #4
Spaceman Beri Greyson cannonballs over the top rope in Saturday’s Commonwealth Championship match Target Photography

The night continued with what would have been a five-man scramble for the PWA Commonwealth Championship; however, prior to the match Nightmare #4 appeared and demanded entry into the match. After a brief discussion with PWA Edmonton commissioner Thaddeus Archer III, it was announced that Nightmare would join Mo Jabari, Beri Greyson, Maxton Flexwell and El Asesino in challenging for Shaun Moore’s title.

While the Nightmare may have been allowed entry into the match, it didn’t seem to sit well with the original five competitors. Immediately upon the bell ringing, the quintet each hit a superkick on Nightmare #4, incapacitating him for the majority of the match.

From that point out, it was absolute madness.

Early on, the action was dominated by the current champion Moore and Jabari. Last May, Moore was the one who ended Jabari’s reign with the Commonwealth Championship, and Kid Chocolate was clearly out to regain what was formerly his.

However, despite his early resilience, he was unable to put away the champion and allowed enough time for the remaining competitors to regain some momentum. The trio of Flexwell, Asesino and Greyson all were able to get some offence in during the match; Greyson, especially, was impressive, with this match being the first time I’ve truly been impressed by the relative newcomer to the promotion. An insane Whisper in the Wind-style move to the outside was outstanding, and he’s now seemed to hit another gear that should bode well for the Spaceman in the coming months.

The ending, as expected, was as chaotic as the match itself. A devastating step-up enziguri from El Asesino looked to have the match closed out; however, it was interrupted by a Mo Jabari splash from the top rope just inches from the referee’s hand hitting the mat for a three-count.

Sensing an opportunity to close out the match, Shaun Moore ascended the top rope looking to close out a prone Asesino. Moore lept from the top, hitting a beautiful 450 on the luchador and with a quick three-count retained his PWA Commonwealth Championship.

PWA Tag Team Championship Match: The League vs. The Above Average Joes vs. Body Break
Zoe Sager delivers an elbow to the League’s Kylie Morgan during the PWA Tag Team Championship match Target Photography

Saturday night saw the PWA Tag Team Championships at stake when The League (Davey O’Doyle, Brayden Parsons & Kylie Morgan) battled Body Break (Michael Allen Richard Clark, Bobby Sharp & Kat Von Heez) and the Above Average Joes (Aiden Adams, Kenny Stryker & Zoe Sager).

When a match is announced with nine people involved, there’s always a risk of having too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen. However, one should never doubt the booking prowess of Thaddeus Archer the Third, but the talent of each of the individuals involved. Each of the teams brought a unique element to the match; with the League’s excellent combination of speed, skill and smarts, Body Break’s ruthless physicality and the never-say-die attitude of the Above Average Joes, there was something to look forward to for every type of wrestling fan in attendance on Saturday.

It was a frantic start to the match, with a number of quick tags punctuating the first few minutes. However, the team of Stryker and Adams were able to gain a short-lived advantage after jumping in on Body Break; however, once Kat Von Heez entered the ring the entire tone of the match shifted. There may be no more dominant woman in wrestling than Von Heez, and  Saturday’s triple threat showcased why she’s one of the best in Albertan wrestling. An absolute physical force, Von Heez looked dominant through her time in the match, at one point even squatting Zoe Sager while holding her in a vertical suplex. However, it was her athleticism that was truly off-the-charts on Saturday evening, with her powerful moveset punctuated by a number of high-flying moves including a wicked Frankensteiner-style move to Zoe Sager that looked to have ended the match.

Michael Allen Richard Clark superplexes the Above Average Joes’ Aiden Adams during 9-man tag team action on Saturday night Target Photography

However, while Von Heez dominated physically, it was Sager and Morgan who were able to use their in-ring awareness to get the better of Body Break a number of times. Nearly immediately upon being tagged into the match, Sager almost shocked Von Heez with a victory roll; Von Heez, while able to kick out at two, was irate. Von Heez was ruthless in her assault, with Michael Allen Richard Clark and Bobby Sharp providing enough distractions to the relative newcomer to allow Von Heez – and Body Break as a whole – to dominate. The trio used their veteran savvy to their advantage early and often, which allowed the team to hit a number of devastating manoeuvres including an absolutely massive superplex from MARC to Aiden Adams that nearly had the match put away for Body Break.

However, that’s when Sager made her move. As Von Heez – the legal woman – was distracted by MARC at ringside, Sager shoved the veteran from behind into her Body Break teammate. Using the rebound momentum, Sager was able to roll Von Heez up for a three count and eliminated the team from the competition.

At that point, it appeared as though the tension that had been percolating in Body Break finally boiled over. As Von Heez and Clark argued, MARC left the ring and, seemingly, Body Break as a whole. However, as Kat was distracted, Bobby Sharp hit a shocking superkick to his teammate, leaving her laying for a short enough time for Clark and Sharp to embrace prior to leaving. As the in-ring chaos continued, Von Heez went on a rampage, absolutely destroying Brayden Parsons of the League prior to leaving as well.

While Parsons may have been on the wrong end of Von Heez’s fury, it was the tag team champion that would prove to be the X-factor in Saturday’s matchup. As Kenny Stryker looked to end the match against the dazed Parsons, Kylie Morgan was able to get in the way and take the brunt of the blow from the Above Average Joe. Parsons, ever the opportunist, used the distraction to not only take out Stryker, but hit Zoe Sager with a devastating Wasteland-style move to leave her laying. With the referee still distracted, Parsons dragged the still-out Morgan into a pinfall attempt on Sager. After regaining the referee’s attention, all it took was a devious three-count for the League to retain their tag team championships.

Question the methods, but don’t argue with the results.

PWA Mayhem Championship Match: “The Thickness” Reid Matthews vs. Colton Kelly w/ Dr Kyoto
Colton Kelly hits a leg drop to a prone Reid Matthews at the PWA 18th-Anniversary Show. Target Photography

The demise of the Millennial Rebels is one of the most well-told stories in Albertan wrestling, in this writers opinion. Since turning their backs on the Thickness at last year’s 17th-Anniversary show, the Rebels have shown cracks that had never been seen in the faction’s history; however, the alliance between Kelly, Kenneth Anthony and manager Dr Kyoto has remained strong despite even the recent betrayal of the monstrous Titan.

However, in the end, it truly came down to Matthews vs. Kelly. It was Kelly who orchestrated the post-match beatdown of his former tag team partner at last year’s anniversary show and ultimately the one Matthews set his sights on destroying. After capturing the PWA Mayhem Championship last month from Kenneth Anthony, the Thickness set out to end the feud once and for all. Now, on the one-year anniversary of the feuds’ beginnings, it all culminated in one of the most brutal matches in PWA history.

Even prior to the match’s official start, there were weapons aplenty. Almost immediately upon entering the ring, Kelly grabbed a kendo stick; The Thickness didn’t even wait to leave the backstage area to grab a garbage can. It was clear that the two were out for blood, and early on it looked as though Colton Kelly would leave Matthews laying. While a pre-match attack was avoided, Kelly’s ruthless use of objects incapacitated the Thickness for the first portion of the match. A basketball hoop was used to handcuff the former Millennial Rebel and an obscene kendo stick beatdown commenced. Both a suplex and a neckbreaker to a street sign followed; however, none was enough to keep down the resilient Matthews.

While devastating, the beating Matthews took early seemed to only inspire him through the middle of the match. As Kelly looked to re-enter the ring, Matthews hit a devastating draping DDT and immediately brought momentum back to his side. A fired-up Thickness looked poised to put Kelly away; however, it was then that the dastardly Dr Kyoto looked to get involved.

It goes without saying that Kyoto is the Millennial Rebels ace-in-the-hole. He’s played an essential part through the rise of the Rebels; countless victories and multiple championships wouldn’t have been won or retained without his help. However, Saturday night saw Kyoto’s involvement taken too far for the first time – with devastating consequences. As the King of Glam Style caused a distraction to draw Matthews attention, Kelly attempted yet another sneak attack on the Thickness. However, as Kyoto went to spray Matthews with green mist, the Thickness ducked out of the way, with Kelly receiving the full blast of toxic liquid. It’s a testament to his strength that the match didn’t immediately end there, as the blast would have taken down a lesser man. However, the two continued to brawl following a tense 9-count for Kelly.

While the green mist was devastating, it was only the beginning for the Thickness and Colton Kelly. Sparked by the misting, Matthews began a ruthless assault on his former tag team partner, hitting a massive cannonball off the apron before leading him to the set of metal bleachers in the gymnasium. A number of powerful slams on the steel steps left Kelly reeling; however, the Thickness was unable to put him away for a ten-count.

A number of times, I’ve brought up the resilience of Reid Matthews. The same can be said about Colton Kelly. After taking the beating he did, I don’t think anyone would have blamed him for an inability to get up. However, not only was he able to recover from the beatdown but do so in spades. A flurry of fists and some quick thinking on Kelly’s end led to the Thickness laying prone on a table on the outside of the ring. Sensing a chance to put the match away, Kelly quickly ascended the top rope. As fast as he was up, he was down; a massive senton to the Thickness from the top rope through a table hit perfectly, and at that point, many in the audience thought the match was over.

In both men’s cases, I’m sure they even half-wished it was, had either of them known what would come next.

Colton Kelly unleashes a bag of tacks near the conclusion of his Mayhem Championship match against “The Thickness” Reid Matthews. Target Photography

As the Thickness recovered inside the ring, Kelly evilly acquired a bag of tacks from under the ring. A hush fell over the crowd as the bag was dumped in the middle of the ring, and as Kelly grabbed his former partner all looked lost for the Mayhem Champion. However, whether it was adrenaline or some excellent in-ring awareness, the Thickness was able to reverse a piledriver attempt into a massive sidewalk slam onto the nearly thousand tacks that graced the ring. Somehow, someway, Kelly was able to recover before the 10-count. It looked as though there was nothing the Thickness could do to retain his championship until a massive piledriver onto the tacks finally kept his former stablemate down.

What can I say? What an incredible match.

ROH World TV Championship Match: Jeff Cobb vs. “The Omen” Gabriel
Ring of Honor TV Champion Jeff Cobb hits Gabriel with a devastating dropkick during their championship match at the PWA 18th-Anniversary Show. Target Photography

One of the best the PWA has to offer was in action immediately following the intermission, as “The Omen” Gabriel was looking to continue his momentum since returning from injury at last month’s PWA Fruition. After winning a triple threat against Bobby Sharp and Michael Allen Richard Clark last month, the Omen was granted an opportunity at the Ring of Honor World TV Championship at the PWA 18th-Anniversary show. However, his feat was no easy one, tasked with facing off against the championship’s current holder, Jeff Cobb.

There’s only so much you can learn about a wrestler from watching them on television, and while Cobb has always been a personal favourite, there’s something to be said for watching someone live for the first time. The champion is one of the most agile big men in the world today; there’s a reason that he’s not only the ROH TV Champion but the PWG World Champion as well. His combination of power and speed is as impressive as it is terrifying, and even when matched against someone as equal to the task as Gabriel, all it takes is one Tour of the Islands to end nearly any match.

As with any first-time opponents, the beginnings of the match were a feeling-out process for both men. Neither man was willing to concede an inch to the other, clearly aware of their opponent’s talents. While a number of quick strikes were exchanged, neither Cobb nor the Omen was able to gain an advantage early.

However, the pace picked up following a series of suplexes from Cobb to Gabriel. It seemed as though the battle turned more physical from that point on, with each man looking to outdo the other in every aspect. For each feat of strength Cobb was able to showcase – including a wicked stalling suplex on the 2nd rope – Gabriel was able to respond with a devastating running bulldog. Again, while neither was able to dominate for an extended period, the two men slowly began to each wear their opponent down enough for a potential three-count. A reverse twisting side slam from Cobb to Gabriel looked poised to have the match closed out and Cobb’s championship retained; however, the Omen was somehow able to kick out split seconds from the referee hitting the mat a third time. In response, Gabriel hit a devastating Nail in the Coffin to nearly put Cobb away, with the Omen mere inches from becoming the new Ring of Honor TV Champion in a shocking upset. Again, however, the opponent kicked out. Looking to finally end it all, Gabriel began to run the ropes, building speed for whatever manoeuvre he had planned next. However, in the end, all it took was a stiff forearm and a ridiculous Tour of the Islands out of nowhere for Cobb to hit the three-count and retain his title.

While Cobb may have emerged victorious, it was clear Gabriel had given everything he had to defeat the ROH standout. A post-match handshake between the two men solidified that not only had Gabriel given his all in the match, but earned Cobb’s respect.

PWA Championship Match: Sheik Akbar Shabaz vs. The PWA Original Marky vs. Brandon Van Danielson vs. “God’s Gift to Wrestling” Michael Richard Blais
Michael Richard Blais careens off the top of a 20-foot ladder onto his opponents during Saturday’s main event Target Photography

What do you get when you mix four of the most talented wrestlers in Western Canada, multitudes of weapons and nearly 1,000 diehard wrestling fans?

If you’re using Saturday night’s main event as the example, the answer is an absolute barnburner of a match.

It’s hard to describe the cacophony that occurred during the main event of Saturday’s show. From the opening bell, all four men involved seemed hellbent on not only winning the match but proving to every individual in the building that they’re the best damn wrestler on the PWA roster. Michael Richard Blais, Brandon Van Danielson, the PWA Original Marky and PWA Champion Sheik Akbar Shabaz came to play on Saturday night; there’s a reason that clips of the four have been appearing everywhere on social media for the past two days.

Simply put, it’s one of those matches you simply need to watch to believe.

MRB hits a moonsault with a ladder in tow into Sheik Akbar Shabaz and the PWA Original during Saturday’s main event. Target Photography

From the start, the pace was frantic. There was no feeling out process for any of the men involved; all four are incredibly familiar with their other competitors, and with the exception of MRB and BVD, all have an extreme hatred for each other in the ring. All bring a different element to the fight, too; whether it be Van Danielson’s ruthless power, Sheik Shabaz’s ingenuity, the PWA Originals’ plucky resilience or Michael Richard Blais freak athleticism, each individual brings a unique presence to any match they’re involved in. Immediately, the Western Lions teamed up to take out both Marky and Shabaz, but their opponents were more than equal to the task. It wasn’t long before the tables, ladders, and chairs started to make appearances; an MRB moonsault while holding a ladder and a devastating side slam from Marky onto the exposed steel would have rendered any lesser men useless; however, somehow, neither move was enough to allow anyone to climb the ladder for the hanging championship belt.

That is, however, until the madness truly escalated.

It’s hard to overstate the insanity of Michael Richard Blais. The man known as God’s Gift to Wrestling is truly a madman of the highest regard; there’s simply nothing that he won’t do in the ring to elicit a response from fans. His desire to impress is only matched by his desire to win, so it was of absolutely no surprise to see him cascading the top rope in an attempt to finish off the PWA Original once and for all. As he latched onto Marky, many expected something big; however, just how big it was can’t be understated.

As MRB laid out Marky, Brandon Van Danielson also ascended the top rope; however, his target was a prone Sheik Shabaz, who laid out cold on a table in the middle of the ring. It looked to be a prime opportunity for the Western Lions to reclaim the championship they lost last summer; however, as Van Danielson took flight, Shabaz was able to roll off the table just in time. Unfortunately for BVD, he bared the full brunt of the table himself, and as would be expected for anyone, essentially had his night ended.

With Marky unconscious outside the ring, it all came down to Sheik Akbar Shabaz and Michael Richard Blais.

Unfortunately for MRB, while Marky may have taken the most of the Spanish Fly to the outside, he wasn’t the only one affected. Try as he might, Blais simply was worse for wear after the impact of such a devastating move. Blais on a bad day can match up with pretty well any other wrestler in the world on their best day; however, the Sheik may be the most formidable opponent Blais has ever faced. The two have battled countless times, and in all my time watching the PWA, there may not be two more evenly-matched opponents. Saturday was perhaps the final clash between these two for a while – more on that later – and the two more than delivered.

However, as mentioned, the Sheik was simply physically better off in this match. It’s been said often, but Shabaz is one of the smartest workers in Albertan wrestling; ever the opportunist, he was able to capitalize on Blais’ weakness following the Spanish Fly. Not one, but two Sheik’s Edges were hit on MRB; if it wasn’t bad enough, both times Blais was ruthlessly deposited on either a ladder or table. It was the second that finally allowed Sheik enough time to ascend the ladder, unclip the title, and retain his PWA Championship in what can only be described as an instant classic for the PWA.

The Aftermath

As the Sheik held his belt after descending the ladder, a masked assailant with a briefcase was noticed running to the ring. Before anyone could do anything about the intruder, the individual laid out both Marky and the Sheik before laying the champion out with a vicious DDT onto the briefcase. As the entire PWA roster headed to the ring, confusion reigned supreme; who was the masked man? Why the Sheik?

As confusion washed over the crowd, another man made his way through the crowd – Michael Allen Richard Clark. As the PWA roster stood prone, Clark entered the ring and began to ruthlessly hit cutter after cutter after cutter to everyone in sight. Furious, Clark grabbed a microphone and looked poised to attack PWA Edmonton commissioner Thaddeus Archer III; however, he had one request: the number one contendership to the PWA Championship. Initially, Thaddeus refused; however, exhibiting a level of ruthlessness not yet seen from the Body Break member, he quickly applied a headlock to set up for yet another cutter, this time to the PWA Edmonton commissioner. Archer, understandably, quickly reconsidered and after a brief discussion with PWA owner Kurt Sorochan, Clark’s request was appeased. On April 20th, Michael Allen Richard Clark will face off with Sheik Shabaz for the top title in the Prairie Wrestling Alliance.

A hell of a show from the PWA. In a brand with a standard for excellence, this may have been one of the finest shows in recent memory. Memorable moments litter each match, and a number of huge developments were made as the promotion moves forward in 2019.

As mentioned, PWA’s next show in Edmonton is April 20th at the Northgate Lions Centre. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Paws: The Cat Cafe or Variant Edition Comics.

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P.W.A Recap & Reactions | 18th-Anniversary Show, March 23, Edmonton

Spencer Love

Once stood in front of Cedric Alexander in line at a hotel. Slightly big deal.

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