Billed as the biggest event of the year, the AWA Royal Rumble, Night of Champions, did not disappoint. Six phenomenal matches made for an unforgettable night that both entertained AWA’s most hardcore fans and rocked the world of South African wrestling. Three titles changed hands and the fourth was only just retained by the malicious Johnny Palazzio.
Vamp and Alcatraz vs. Ed-Electric and Blankman
The opening bout was, as all openers should be, adrenaline pumping action from start to finish. These four lightweight competitors turned heads with their aggressive yet tactical tag team wrestling. Vamp and Alcatraz had amazing chemistry and worked together like they had been teaming up for years. The main attraction, however, was the ever entertaining Blankman who embraced his true colours by “coming out the closet” as Gorgeous. Gorgeous and Ed-Electric got the crowd chanting and screaming for their unique team. Unfortunately popularity doesn’t win matches and Vamp sealed the victory by crushing Ed-Electric with a gut-wrench power-bomb while Alcatraz held back the vivacious Gorgeous.
Tow Bars Cape Lightweight Championship
Nick Fury vs. El-Matador vs. Revyv
The first title match of the evening was the much anticipated triple threat match for the Tow Bars Cape Lightweight Championship. Nick Fury and FUBAR Revolution have interfered in the past and cost both El-Matador and Revyv victories. Night of Champions would be the champion’s toughest challenge as he would have no “backup” with the FUBAR thugs barred from ringside. The match started out with the challengers’ collective attack on their common enemy; predictably this camaraderie did not last as all three men put it all on the line for Lightweight gold. A couple of my personal highlights would be: El-Matadors insane flip pile-driver from the second rope, punishing his arch-rival Nick Fury; Revyv’s suicidal 450 flip from the top turnbuckle to the outside; Fury’s massive swinging neck breaker from the top rope on Revyv; and of course that incredible move leading to Revyv’s well deserved win. Revyv’s win makes him the second ever Lightweight Champion in the AWA, but if I was him I would watch my back, FUBAR Revolution are on the prowl and they don’t take loss well.
The OZ vs. Mr Money
In my eyes, match of the night. The OZ and Mr Money, two crowd favourites going head to head. The Golden Tiger’s win in the last House of Pain event must have been foremost in his mind as he continued where he left off by taking the attack to the innocent ex-con The OZ. Mr Money’s support was as upbeat and vocal as usual, the only difference was in his match they had to out cheer The OZ’s hardcore fan base. At one stage I thought the match belonged to the wealthy Durbanite; after a series of offensive moves he hit the Budget-Cut, which signals the end for 90% of his opponents, but not The OZ. Mr Money, frustrated with his opponents kick out, made a mistake of turning his back and not following up. The Michells Plain hard man seized on Mr Money’s inexperienced mishap, hitting Mr Money with an OZ-bomb and then his signature OZ drop leading to the 1..2…3.
AWA Cruiserweight Championship
Johnny Palazzio vs. Vinnie Vegas
S.A.’s two best going toe to toe, what more can be said? Palazzio entered the ring with his FUBAR crew and immediately got up the noses of the AWA fans with his rude and abrasive opinions. The moment for me came when Vinnie Vegas made a surprise entrance from the balcony, his fans were treated to an up close look at their hero the Rock Star himself. The match started with both wrestlers feeling out their opponents, neither man wanted to rush in and make a mistake in such an important clash. There is very little between these competitors, throughout the match each man showed his technical wrestling prowess; in addition each man has his own unique skills. Johnny Palazzio showed his strength while Vinnie Vegas put on a display of speed and daredevil tactics to gain the upper hand on the Champion. Vegas put it all on the line in this match, hitting the Flying Aces Elbow Drop and a sublime cross body from the turnbuckle onto the Italian Stallion on the outside. Vegas looked to have the champ beat but experience and blatant disregard of the rules let him sneak in a disputable pin fall and successfully retain the title. In the aftermath Vinnie Vegas proposed a ladder rematch for the title, upon accepting the challenge Palazzio was knocked out by an adrenaline filled Vinnie Vegas. We have a lot more to expect from these two in the future.
XtremeWar (BDX-treme and Warlock)
vs. Bobby Rose and Sam Swiegers
Our first look at the new coalition of BDX and Warlock was a brutal and disturbing image. XtremeWar are the dark of the dark, when they enter the match it seems a black cloud looms over the ring. Their evil was overwhelming and not even the experienced Bobby Rose could handle the onslaught. Credit must be paid to Sam Swiegers, an AWA official, who answered the open call to partner Bobby Rose against the wicked duo. Sam and Bobby worked tirelessly to fight off XtremeWar, but their drive was not enough to combat such a devastating tag team. When XtremeWar hit their Doomsday finish the writing was on the wall. AWA had better batten down the hatches, this team looks to be on the Warpath.
All Africa Heavyweight Championship
Missing Link vs. Shaun Koen
The main event, the climax of a decade long rivalry between two of Africa’s most recognisable wrestlers. The insane Missing Link and the Lion of Africa Shaun Koen. These two have faced each other many times over the last few years and it was this match that was to be the game breaker. Hardcore, no holds barred wrestling. This match had everything that a hardcore match should and it is impossible to describe the big match atmosphere apparent in the Civic centre on the night. Those who were in attendance were treated (or sickened) by the most savage match in AWA’s history. Link and Koen went through metal tables, wooden tables, metal chairs, wooden chairs and the Coca Cola Gazebo like they were their personal playthings. Link smashed numerous chairs to pieces as he inflicted damage to the Lion of Africa. The highlight for me was the flaming table through which Link threw Shaun and very nearly set fire to the challenger’s long blond locks. In the end it was a combination of a power slam onto 250 drawing pins, a second rope splash by the 182kg Koen and a proverbial “knife in the back” by Mr Rossouw that ended Link’s year and a half long title reign. Celebrations began as Shaun Koen again lifted the belt as the All Africa Heavyweight Champion. Link, making it to his feet after the severe beating proceeded to violently take out his aggression on Mr Rossouw, who in turn proceeded to fire Missing Link from the AWA and vowed to ensure Link never wrestles in South Africa again. But we’ll just see what happens in the weeks to come.
The Royal Rumble
The Royal Rumble is one of the AWA’s most sought after victories. This annual event draws crowds from all over and can only be described as chaotic. This year’s event saw 22 wrestlers take to ring and only one man leave as Royal Rumble Champion with the other 21 being eliminated over the top rope. Defending champ The OZ was, as the tradition goes, first to enter. The other 21 men drew random numbers out of a hat to dictate the order in which they would make their way to the ring. The worst draw was given to Ed-Electric who started off the match with The OZ, if either had any aspirations of being the royal Rumble Champ they would have to outlast all of the fresh competitors that would enter the ring at 30 second intervals. The best draw was that of Vinnie Vegas who was the last man to enter the ring, which at this stage was crammed full of talent. The last four men in the ring were Bobby Rose, Mr Money, Vinnie Vegas and the Rumble specialist himself, The OZ. After eliminating Money and Rose, Vegas and OZ stood face to face, shook hands and engaged in the final battle to determine the next Champion. Vegas eliminated OZ in classic style with a hurricarana to the outside. The Rockstar may have missed out in his Cruiserweight fight but he is now the Royal Rumble Champion and on a high for his Ladder Match for the Title come the next House Of Pain.