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2006 in Review

KPW 2006 Looking Back and Facing Forwards

By Blair Rhodes and 'The Hype' Bobby Cool

Kiwi Pro Wrestling exploded onto the New Zealand pro wrestling scene in June 2006 and right from the first show 'Storm Warning' in June, grappling fans knew they were in for something special. 

As an organisation, KPW benefits from the wrestling pedigree at its helm. Bringing his vast experience into play is Commissioner Butch Miller (One half of the beloved tag team 'The Bushwhackers', NZ's answer to the Hart Foundation, and himself a heavily-decorated veteran of over thirty years experience). Add to the upper echelons the no-nonsense Managing Director and enforcer Rip Morgan (A veteran who has wrestled literally around the world) and you've got a top management structure who know just what it's like to be in the ring.

Mind you, you need a tough administration to keep a lid on what goes on in that ring! Right from the outset, KPW management have had their hands full with top talent doing whatever it takes to angle themselves for a title shot. The wrestlers aren't afraid to get physically involved, but they'd better look out, because neither is management!

Another of KPW's strengths is leveraging its business contacts to draw on top talent from around the country. Inviting IPW wrestlers to showcase their talents gave the fans added variety and even saw two of the three original '(Tara) Naki Phullas' Del Knox and Gold unite against Team Pretty and Vinny Dunn at December's 'Xmas Kracker'.

Throughout the year, as KPW presented show after stellar show, the crowds were treated to a rollercoaster ride of top wrestling talent and colourful characters. Highlights of the year included KPW gaining its first champion H-Flame and his many battles with Jonnie Juice and Team Pretty (Hollie & Jess). Another was inducting Butch Miller into KPW's Hall of Fame along with veteran wrestler and ex promoter Al Hobman, also a former Mr New Zealand.

Many great match ups were fought between the KPW roster including the formidible Rogue Trooper and Irishman Mike (The Crowbar) Ryan, Max Damage, Inferno, Gold and Team Diablo - El Porcho, El Condor, Platinum and El Ninja. Yet another highlight was Head Referee Charlie Roberts abusing his power and holding Creed down (Requiring the intervention of Commissioner Butch himself), and the uneasy alliance between former team-mates Jonnie Juice and The Ram being overcome by their lust for the richest prize in NZ wrestling, the KPW Championship Belt. Under Charlie Roberts superb training, referee Kade Morgan made his debut in August's 'Powerslam' show and has already proved his referee's ability in the ring.

There are many excellent wrestlers on the KPW roster and all were embroiled in compelling rivalries throughout the year. Time and space dont permit us to mention them all, but the series surrounding the KPW Championship stands out for producing some of the best matches we've seen.

The principal players were Team Pretty (Surely the wiliest duo to step between the ropes), the Ram ) Never at a loss for a dirty trick) and superstar H-Flame. In the past, Ram and Jonnie Juice were thick as thieves and saw eye-to-eye when it came to taking shortcuts to winning despite their obvious talents in the ring. However, when two such wrestlers had their eyes on the same prize, trouble was never going to be far away.

The cracks in their fragile alliance showed in August's 'Powerslam' with Ram's interference in Jonnie Juice's title match versus champion H-Flame going awry and essentially costing Juice the title.

'Double Cross' in September was aptly named: Jerimiah and Ram parted ways, and Jonnie Juice proving payback's a you-know-what by taking out Ram in the latter's championship match, setting the Bollywood bad boy up for a pinfall loss. Whereas Ram had lost his 'ring crew', fellow members of Team Pretty, Hollie and Jessie (Surely the most distracting team ever to grace ringside) remained loyal to Jonnie Juice throughout the year. By now, there was no going back to the good old days for Jonnie Juice and the Ram. The only way to settle who amongst them was going to get the title belt was to put them in the ring with the champ and let them fight it out.

That's just what happened at October's 'Halloween Howl', with the first Triple Threat match for the KPW Championship pitting champion H-Flame against both Ram and Jonnie Juice. Unfortunately for the latter two, their anger spilled out of the ring and they brawled themselves out of contention, underscoring the words of Benjamin Franklin that "A house divided against itself cannot stand". It wouldn't be until 'The Reckoning' in November that the Ram would gain a modicum of revenge by stealing a pinfall victory over his former partner in crime.

As for the wrestler currently at the top of the mountain, it's been a tough yet rewarding year for H-Flame. Starting strong by winning the first round tournament at June's 'Storm Warning' to claim one of the top contender spots, the superstar sealed the deal at July's 'Eruption' with a hard fought victory over world class Jonnie Juice to become the first KPW Champion. Since then he's faced down the threats of The Ram and Team Pretty (Sometimes both at once) and battled the giant Max Damage but always come out on top. Who knows what challenges 2007 will bring for H-Flame as both Rogue Trooper and Irishman Mike (The Crowbar) Ryan have been muttering darkly about tearing the title off him.

 

But one thing comes first...who's got the belt? There are the usual suspects after a certain superstar stormed the ring in the shocking conclusion to 'Xmas Kracker', but nothing conclusive has emerged thus far. You better believe KPW enforcer Rip Morgan has made a list of names and is checking it twice! The richest prize in NZ wrestling is no doubt pride of place under someone's Christmas tree and it's only a matter of time before we find out who.

Since its inception KPW has gone from strength to strength. The organisation provides a crucible for the past and future to collide in the present. Earlier in the year, KPW took the unprecedented step of creating their Hall of Fame, inducting such NZ luminaries as Al Hobman and Bruno Becker.

KPW has presented the best in home grown talent from around the country, as well as providing a showcase for superstars of the recent past  like veteran Irishman Mike Ryan who wasted no time in running roughshod, to Shane O'Rourke appearing and announcing himself as the merciless 'Crucifier' in December, and a platform for today's talent (Like the veteran Inferno) to launch themselves to stardom.

Heading into 2007 is to strive to get New Zealand pro wrestling back on television, something not seen since the days of 'On The Mat'. With the best in local and international talent to back them up, it's only a matter of time! This has been Blair 'The Flair' Rhodes and 'The Hype' Bobby Cool for KPW and we'll see you at ringside!

(c) Kiwi Pro Wrestling 2006