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2008 The Year in Review

Kiwi Pro Wrestling 2008 - THE YEAR IN REVIEW

AT A GLANCE

  • Inferno overcomes the challenge of 'Powerhouse' Jade Diamond to focus on the title
  • Inferno and Charlie Roberts continue their two-year assault on KPW Champion H-Flame
  • KPW stars, divas and manager in WWE try-out
  • Team Pretty implodes!
  • Formation of the Rock'n'Roll Connection
  • KPW stars experience a Taranaki-homecoming when KPW invades New Plymouth
  • KPW kiwi stars rout second Aussie attack!
  • Max Damage goes after villainous KPW GM Terry the Golden Greek
  • KPW and Kiwi legends pay tribute to dearly-departed NZ wrestling legend Mr Al Hobman at its showcase event of the year
  • New faces, rising new stars (The Technician, The Standard Hero, Whetu, 'Handsome' Johnny Falcon, the Rock 'n' Roll Connection, Jas 'the Ace', Referee Mark Freemantle)
  • Other action throughout the year (De Lorean versus the Brute and Kade Morgan 3G)

IN DEPTH

Inferno overcomes the challenge of 'Powerhouse' Jade Diamond to focus on the KPW title.

Before he could take the fight to the undefeated Kiwi Pro Wrestling Champion H-Flame in his chase for the coveted KPW Championship, the fiery veteran had to first overcome the challenge of one of KPW's brightest stars, fan favourite Jade Diamond.  The young 'Powerhouse' was goaded into standing up to Inferno at 'AUSTRALIAN INVASION'  in August 2007, when Diamond ran out to protect the helpless El Condor from a vicious post-match beating from Inferno.  Disgusted with the youngster's temerity, Inferno challenged Diamond to a match at the next show.  Their encounter at 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 2' in October 2007 was a back and forth affair, showing that perhaps Inferno had underestimated the Powerhouse's talent.  In the end however, Inferno's power and experience were not to be denied and he scored a convincing pinfall victory.

By the close of 2007, Inferno seemed to view the up-and-coming 'Powerhouse' as nothing more than a youthful upstart, an insignificant flea rather than a thorn in his side.  But Inferno had reckoned without the Powerhouse's resilience.  Much to Inferno's frustration, Diamond came back to haunt Inferno again.  In their resulting match at April's 'EVE of DESTRUCTION', Diamond came closer than ever to scoring a major win over the veteran Inferno.  If it hadn't been for the interference of "'he Ayotollah of High Rollas' Charlie Roberts, Inferno would have been caught in Diamond's feared torture rack and may have been forced to tap out.

With the enmity between these two running at an all-time high, both parites agreed to a first for KPW - the first ever Miramar Bunkhouse match, inspired by the wild brawls Kiwi Pro Wrestling CEO Rip Morgan had seen during his days wrestling in Texas.  There would be no time limit, no countouts, no disqualifications and falls would count anywhere.  The showdown took place at 'AFTERBLASTER' in July, and the vicious brawl raged all over the ringside area, meaning no fan was safe from the carnage!  

Each used everything they could get their hands on, Inferno using his opponent's shirt and even grabbing the commentator's chair at one point to use it in his all-out assault on his hated foe!  Despite carrying an injury from a beatdown suffered at the hands of Terry the Golden Greek, Jade Diamond refused to back down and fought for all he was worth.  After a hellacious battle, Diamond found himself trapped in the Cinderlock, positioned so that he could not break free.  

Valiant to the end, the young star refused to submit, but eventually the pain was too much and he passed out, giving Inferno the hard-fought victory.  Having overcome the threat of the 'Powerhouse' (no mean feat), Inferno was able to continue pursuing his goal of becoming the next Kiwi Pro Wrestling Champion.  He would take a giant leap towards his goal later at the same show...

Inferno and Charlie Roberts continue their two-year assault on KPW Champion H-Flame

AnnouncerSince revealling at 'SLAMTIME CITY' in April 2007 that it was he and Charlie Roberts who colluded to steal the KPW Championship at 'XMAS CRACKER' in December 2006, Inferno and his manager Charlie Roberts have been driven by a single unified desire - to unseat undefeated Kiwi Pro Wrestling Champion H-Flame.  Inferno was so driven in his desire for the belt that he turned his back on the fans long ago and "embraced the dark side", you could say.  Gone was the man who fought with honour, and in his place was a tortured soul with a foul temper who'd gladly do whatever it took to get what he wanted and who didn't care who he had to hurt.  As a matter of fact, on some fundamental level, Inferno probably enjoys inflicting pain on his opponents.  

The Number One Contender's Battle Royal at 'AFTERBLASTER' provided him with an opportunity to simultaneously do both.  Unleashing the pent-up rage within, Inferno scorched thropugh the competition to be one of the final three men in the ring.  Driven to desperate lengths, he briefly engaged in an unholy alliance with former co-Youngbloods member Juice to eliminate Graham Hughes before lastly eliminating his former comrade to claim the coveted Number One Contender's slot.

Like children longing for their promised presents at Christmas, Inferno and Charlie Roberts simply couldn't wait.  At Kiwi Pro Wrestling's New Plymouth show 'AFTERBLASTER 2', the contract signing for the championship match with H-Flame degenerated into a very physical confrontation!  Inferno was champing at the bit to get his teeth into the champ, but H-Flame wasn't backing down an inch.  Later in the show, Inferno's temper would get the better of him; he charged the ring during H-Flame's non-title match against Graham Hughes and attacked the champ, ruining a perfectly good match and infuriating the champ.  

At the Kiwi Pro Wrestling's showcase event of the year 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3', Inferno and manager Charlie Roberts brought their A-game to what was surely to be their most brutal encounter with H-Flame yet!  True to form, the match was a intense brawl, with Inferno throwing everything he had at the champ.  Mad with frustration at being unable to put the champ away, he choke-slammed the ref and attacked the helpless H-Flame with a chair.  Interference from Charlie Roberts went awry as a belt shot hit Inferno instead, allowing the champ to rally and hit the H-Bomb for the big win!  In a case of poetic justice, it was the prize that Inferno stole at the end of 2006 that ultimately proved to be his undoing.

Kiwi Pro Wrestling stars, divas and manager in WWE try-out

It was a case of the Kiwi superstars taking to the international stage in June this year when six KPW stars were amongst those selected from a national "casting call" to go forward for a tryout with WWE.  Max "'he Axe' Damage, the Ram, Terry the Golden Greek, Hollie from Team Pretty, KPW Champion H-Flame and Jade Diamond were put through their paces in front of the watchful eye of the WWE veterans before the WWE Smackdown show in Auckland this June.

During the intense training for the tryout, Kiwi Pro Wrestling garnered national media attention and the stars were interviewed by TV3 and TVOne.  The godfather of New Zealand professional wrestling Steve Rickard, cast a keen eye over the stars as they pushed themselves to the limit in preperation for an opportunity of a lifetime, and he certainly liked what he saw!

The tryout itself was a fantastic learning experience for all involved, as well as a great way for KPW to showcase its talent at an international level, not to mention a golden opportunity to meet and rub shoulders with some of the WWE superstars themselves!

Team Pretty implodes!

Whereas 2008 saw the formation of some new alliances, it was also the year when a group that had been seemingly impervious to dissention went into full meltdown!  From the beginning of the year, tension had been building between the two female members of Team Pretty about who was the more valuable to the team.  William Congreve would have certainly applied his "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" aphorism to Jessie and Hollie as the claws came out and the former team-mates turned on each other.  

This enmity culminated in a first for Kiwi Pro Wrestling at 'EVE of DESTRUCTION' in April, when the two divas from Team Pretty faced each other in a 'Loser Leaves Town Divas Strap match'.  At a pivotal moment in the match, obviously having made his choice in the matter, Jonnie Juice delivered a king-size 'kiss off' to Jessie in the form of his 'Butterfly Effect', giving Hollie the win!  

This key victory signalled the formation of a leaner and meaner Team Pretty, as well as the self-proclaimed ascension of Hollie to royal heights.  Throughout the year, the so-called "Queen of the Divas" would lord it over the KPW "common people".  There were those who took pointed exception to her royal pretensions...

Formation of the Rock'n'Roll Connection

As one stable was changed seemingly forever in 2008, another was being formed.  With its origins at 'EVE OF DESTRUCTION' last year when Rogue Trooper saved Ms Rebecca Black from the merciless wrath of Inferno and Charlie Roberts after her interference in an Inferno match backfired.  The veteran wrestler Rogue Trooper began schooling the former femme fatale in the art of professional wrestling.  This did not sit well with Hollie, who saw herself as Kiwi Pro Wrestling's resident "alpha female".  Already having sent one foe packing from the promotion, she boldly dismissed the efforts of Ms Black, drawing the ire of the newly-trained diva.  A challenge was laid down for a match at the next show to decide once and for all who was the real 'Queen of the Divas'.  Ms Black and Rogue Trooper made their return at 'AFTERBLASTER' as Miles D'Rock and Suzie Q of the brand-new  'Rock 'n' Roll Connection'.  

The 'Queen of the Divas' match was to be Suzie Q's wrestling debut and the newcomer did not disappoint.  Team Pretty showed it was business as usual with team-mate Jonnie Juice unafraid to interfere on behalf of Hollie when things got rough.  In the end, it seemed that Team Pretty were more concerned with sending a message to the Rock 'n' Roll Connection, as Jonnie Juice's blatant interference resulted in a disqualification win for Suzie Q.  However, Team Pretty only really succeeded in angering Miles D'Rock and Suzie Q.

The inevitable rematch took place at 'AFTERBLASTER 2' in New Plymouth this September, giving the so-called "Queen" the homefield advantage.  "Queen" Hollie and Jonnie Juice brought their usual disdain to the ring, backed by cunning and a willingness to do anything to win.  They were soon to discover that the Rock 'n' Roll Connection was a force to be reckoned with.  This time around, Hollie was on the back foot as Suzie Q concentrated on a disciplined attack.  Jonnie Juice's interference was never far away and neither was Miles D'Rock's intervention.  In the end, a cheap shot from the "Queen" resulted in a cheap win.  Completely fed up with Team Pretty's cheating ways, the Rock'n'Roll Connection challenged the arrogant duo to a mixed tag team match at the next show!

At 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3', the battle between the Rock 'n' Roll Connection and Team Pretty was joined on a level playing field in the first mixed tag team match in Kiwi Pro Wrestling history!  Once again, the discipline of Miles D'Rock and Suzie Q ran headlong into the cheating ways of Team Pretty.  Competing in a fair fight has never been a priority of Team Pretty and they pulled out all the stops to try to make the rocking pair fight on their terms.  Not to be outdone, the Rock 'n' Roll Connection kept their heads amidst a wild brawl and got the win over Team Pretty!  Miles D'Rock and Suzie Q finished 2008 on a high, but there's no love lost between these teams.  The rivalry is more than likely to intensify in the new year - so keep an eye out for developments!

Kiwi Pro Wrestling stars experience a Taranaki-homecoming when KPW invades New Plymouth

Kiwi Pro Wrestling brought the first live professional wrestling to Taranaki in 15 years with 'AFTERBLASTER 2' in September.  As mentioned, it was a homecoming for some of the KPW stars - "Queen" Hollie took every opportunity to run down her home province, Max 'the Axe' Damage came to defend Taranaki's proud wrestling heritage and hometown boy Shane 'the Technician' Whitehead made his explosive debut!  New Plymouth really turned it on for Kiwi Pro Wrestling's first Taranaki show with a lively crowd in attendance and full-page spreads in the local newspaper for Hollie, Max Damage and Shane Whitehead.  

The Taranaki KPW stars must have been feeling the hometown support, as each managed to pull out significant victories at the show - "Queen" Hollie beat Suzie Q (with her usual cheatin' ways), Max 'the Axe' Damage survived the odds to be the last man standing in the Taranaki Bull pen match and Shane Whitehead impressed in his debut with a decisive pinfall victory over Kiwi Pro Wrestling mainstay Dr Diablo!

The stars of Kiwi Pro Wrestling came out to shine and the Taranaki fans came out in droves to show their appreciation for the live action!  It was a great show all round and perhaps a sign of things to come!

Kiwi Pro Wrestling Kiwi stars rout second Aussie attack!

2008 was the year when the Kiwi Pro Wrestling champ H-Flame and big man Max 'the Axe' Damage joined forces to form the 'Men In Black' in response to the Machiavellian manipulations of KPW GM Terry the Golden Greek.  In a continuation of his strategy deployed first at 'AUSTRALIAN INVASION' in 2007, Terry engaged a pair of Australian 'hit men'  in an attempt to roll over the last vestiges of resistance in Kiwi Pro Wrestling - the Kiwi ex-pat pocket battleship Tank and the massive 6'8" monster Iron Horse!   The showdown took place at 'EVE of DESTRUCTION', resulting in a hard-fought win for the 'Men in Black'.  Obviously deciding to change tactics and strike from within, Terry deployed his favourite Overstayers Mike Ryan and The Ram, hoping that they would succeed where the Australians had failed.  

The dynamic duo of the Kiwi Pro Wrestling champion and KPW's big man met the challenge at 'AFTERBLASTER'.  Who can forget that epic bash, where a brutal clothesline from the Irish warhorse left the big man partly concussed?  Battered but not beaten, the 'Men In Black' rallied once again to send the Golden Greek and his Overstayers packing.  With two ties and two losses, it seems that the KPW GM's plans lay in ruins.  H-Flame was free to concentrate on Inferno and Charlie Roberts.

However, it never pays to underestimate the cunning of Terry the Golden Greek, nor the level of enmity he inspires in his opponents.  As the KPW fans saw later in the year, the rivalry wasn't over between Max 'the Axe' and Terry...

Max Damage goes after villainous KPW GM Terry the Golden Greek

Eager for some payback after all the grief that Terry has given the KPW locker room over the year, Max 'the Axe' saw a golden opportunity to go after the Golden Greek.  In his home province at 'AFTERBLASTER 2', Max triumphed in the first ever Taranaki Bull Pen match!  This allowed him to choose his opponent for Kiwi Pro Wrestling's showcase event of the year... and Damage selected none other than the Golden Greek himself!  Heartily sick of having to go through the Golden Greek's hit men, and with Terry running rampant and interfering in whichever manner chose by whichever manager he chose, Damage was able to take the fight right to the "Chosen One".  

It was a showdown for the ages at 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3' as the manager took on the wrestler in a pitched confrontation where there was no quarter asked and certainly none given!  Terry used his cunning and ruthlessness to combat Damage's experience, strength and determination.  The end came when Terry cheated -inevitably, it seemed -   with some apparent assistance from Portsmouth's finest Graham Hughes, using a chain to attack the big man.  Terry was briefly left standing tall, but Damage will be coming back unbowed in 2009, it's safe to predict!

Kiwi Pro Wrestling and Kiwi legends pay tribute to dearly-departed NZ wrestling legend Mr Al Hobman at its showcase event of the year

2008 also saw he sad and sudden passing of a true Kiwi wrestling legend, Mr Al Hobman.  In a stellar career that encompassed wrestling extensively both in New Zealand and overseas, Allan Hobman was twice NZ heavyweight champion, in a reign that totalled nearly six years, and was inducted into the Kiwi Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame by fellow New Zealand veteran wrestler, KPW Commissioner Butch in 2006.  Mr Hobmann had been involved with Kiwi Pro Wrestling since its formation, keeping a keen eye on the wrestling stars of tomorrow.  He was remembered by all as a gentleman both inside and outside the ring.  And so it was at 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3', in the presence of his son Kurt Hobman that such Kiwi wrestling luminaries as Bruno Bekkar, Juno Huia, Cowboy Billy Wright, Bob Crozier and Steve Rickard paid tribute to a fellow competitor and friend.  

As a mark of respect to Mr Hobman, Kiwi Pro Wrestling management respectfully dedicated the main event of 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3' to the memory of a friend and wrestling legend.

New faces, rising new stars

Perhaps more than any other year, 2008 was the year of the debut.  Kiwi Pro Wrestling has made some excellent talent acquisitions and has some stellar talent graduating from its wrestling school.  KPW fans have been spoilt for choice over how to watch with this new crop of talent.  'AFTERBLASTER' saw the KPW debut of 'The Standard Hero' Graham Hughes returning to the squared circle after a five-year sabbatical; Whetu the Maori Warrior burst onto the scene in the Number One Contender's Battle Royal and 'Handsome' Johnny Falcon tangled with KPW's other Jonnie, namely Jonnie Juice.  

2008 witnessed the Rock 'n' Roll Connection being formed and they look set to dance all the way to victory in 2009.  'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3'  saw the debut of its newest member, Jimmy van der Roll in singles action.  Young referee Mark Freemantle stepped into the ring at 'AFTERBLASTER 2' to try and maintain law and order in the squared circle, and immediately found his work cut out for him.  

Kiwi Pro Wrestling acquired Oceania champion Shane Whitehead, who went up against some of the best that KPW had to offer.  Kiwi Pro Wrestling also made a superb talent acquisition in signing seven-year veteran Graham Hughes, a graduate of the world-class FWA Academy in Portsmouth, England.   Jas 'the Ace' travelled from the City of Sails to bring his unique style to the Wellington fans at 'HALLOWEEN HOWL 3'.  With all this talent on offer, who knows exactly what excitement the coming year will hold?  For my part, I'm really glad to be along for the ride!

Other action thoughout 2008

If I was to relate all that has happened in 2008, we'd be here forever!  2008 saw the fans witnessing a feud between fan favourite Chris De Lorean and 'The Brute' J.E. O'Rourke  and his partner in crime, Kade Morgan '3G'.  These are wrestlers to watch in the coming year. The fans also saw H-Flame yet again defy the odds and come through another year undefeated as the Kiwi Pro Wrestling Champion.  Speaking of undefeated , Lazarus Volt's victory over 'IceWolf' Christopher Simons not only marks the successful anniversary of Volt's debut, but also continues his unbeaten streak in KPW!

Just a final word from me.  While writing this article, I was tempted to make my own "best of the year" appraisals and hand out my own unofficial "Best Match of the Year", "Tag Team of the Year", "Match of the Year"-type awards.  However, I soon gave up.  This was because I realised that by picking one match or team or wrestler over another, I was taking attention away from what made the other matches or talent in that category special when all had something unique about them that made them eligible to be the very best in their field.  And that's what's so great about KPW - it's so hard to pick just one thing as the very best, where there is so much talent and greatness on offer!  As always in pro wrestling, each fan will decide what's the best according to them and debate it - that's all part of the fun.   I also predict that there'll be even more choices and even more greatness from Kiwi Pro Wrestling in 2009 and I'm glad I'm along for the ride!

This is Blair "the Flair" saying, "See you at ringside!"

BLAIR RHODES