09th Sep2019

‘Underworld Wrestling: Season 1’ Review (Amazon Prime)

by Chris Cummings


Underworld Wrestling, now available to stream on Amazon Prime (Season 1) started out as a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 and follows a template I can only really compare to the cult-wrestling-hit Lucha Underground. The wrestling is there, it’s what what you’d expect from a pro-wrestling show, but everything else, from backstory to characters to storylines, are part of a dramatic and much more soap-opera driven format and a focus on fighting. Underworld Wrestling’s website says this about what the show is all about;

Popular history often tells how professional wrestling was introduced to Australia in the 1960s and 70s by international promoters looking to tame an unruly sporting market. Little did these promotors know the southern territory presented fierce competition with an underground wrestling tradition brandishing a particularly ruthless style of fighting sports. The Underworld fight club was the flagship sports gathering of Melbourne’s underworld and it had a deep-seated history with which international promotions could, and would not, contend.

The Underworld fight club is said to have formed during the Victorian Gold Rush era of the mid-nineteenth century. Fighters and members met in secret to compete for riches and glory. The club maintained its exclusivity to protect two sacred and dark prizes: The Underworld Championship titles. Legend has it that whoever controls both titles wields great power. Most think this power comes in the form of fortune and some crave its glory, but a select few think it bestows mystical powers. More recently, the Underworld fight club has been overrun by a cultish faction called The Claw, who ushered in its sinister and crazed leader, Lord Mark Williamson, as new president of the fight club. Williamson is one of the select few members who believed in the mystical powers of the belts and sought to obtain control of both belts to bring about what he called “the end of all things.” His first order of business was to manipulate the rules of the club in his favour to obtain control of both belts. Williamson wanted the world to watch as he brought about “the end of all things” so he dismantled the club’s secrecy and opened the fight club up to the world through live and recorded public shows.

So, we’re not dealing with an ordinary wrestling promotion. This isn’t just an indie-fed with a ring and a bunch of wrestlers (nothing wrong with that, by the way). This is something unique and attempts to break some moulds and do some unusual and original things with pro-wrestling programming, something that intrigued me greatly. It’s high-concept content and something that takes some getting used to, considering what us wrestling fans have become accustomed to for many decades. I’m always down with a company that’s swimming against the stream though, and this Australian promotion are certainly doing just that.

There are time limits, there’s a league to determine contenders and challengers, and there’s a focus on knock-outs as much as there is on submissions and pin-falls. Season 1 consists of seven episodes that run from 60 minutes long to 120 minutes, depending on the episode. There are some really interesting elements going for it, like I’ve mentioned above, in the stories, the characters and the way the matches are built up. At its core though, in the ring, inside the fairly standard looking small venues it appears in, Underworld Wrestling has some pretty damn fine professional wrestling going for it, too. This is a low-budget product and there are a lot of gimmicks and ideas and concepts being thrown around (perhaps there are a few too many), but the wrestling is regularly really good. There are focuses on things that generally aren’t focused on in wrestling too, so as a fan who is used to the traditional format of pro-wrestling, it can be a bit tough to smoothly transition into what Underworld Wrestling is doing. There are some true talents here, and being that I’m not overly familiar with the Aussie wrestling scene (aside from the odd show I manage to catch) I was glad to get a chance to see some of the performers in action. The editing is done well, and even though there’s a smaller budget, they do really push themselves to the limits as much as they can to present the best show they can present. That’s commendable, for sure.

There are a whole bunch of top notch matches between some talented folks. There are a whole bunch of women’s matches here and many are a lot of fun, such as a violent scrap between Erika Reid and Vixsin, and a really good match between Erika and Avary over the Underworld title. There are some solid male talent who stand out too, with Pitbull coming to mind immediately. He was impressive. Other guys like Carlo Cannon (a guy trained by Lance Storm), GWOC and JXT show plenty too, and are introduced in a big way as the season goes on. I am still getting to know most of these wrestlers and so it was really cool to see them do their thing. It shows just how many talented workers there are Down Under these days, an untapped market, you could say. There are hardcore style matches, for you folks who like that sort of thing. It’s a slice of something very fresh and different and if you’re a Lucha Underground fan and want a product with a similar brain, then you might just dig this too. Amidst the rules and focuses on point scoring and the whole Floodgate idea, this is an Australian wrestling show that should appeal to fans in the mood for a change in pace. I had fun with it, and while there were occasions where there were too many conceptual things going on, it was still energised, interesting and exciting to watch. Yes… I think things could be simplified and toned down a little, and the characters and stories let speak for themselves a touch more, but complaining about something with this much creativity feels kind of wrong. It has a lot to offer, and a lot to improve upon too, but it’s very much something that, with a passionate fanbase, can grow into something even better than this. There’s a lot of potential with this promotion.

A wide array of Australian and New Zealand wrestlers are at the soul of this, and if you want a single reason to check this out then that should be it. The high-concept stuff can be enjoyable, and it works sometimes with some of the interesting plots going on, but come for the uniqueness and stay for the wrestling matches. There aren’t TOO many blinding or amazing matches here, I will say that, but there are still plenty of good ones, and it’s fun to sit back and chill out to. I certainly did, and had a bloody good time in the process. There are a solid few hours of entertainment in this season and it’s a fairly strong start for Underworld Wrestling.

Underworld Wrestling is available to stream on Amazon Prime now.


Comments are closed.