World Series Wrestling Phoenix Rising HOT TAKE
A unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.
A person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect.
Once upon a time, Australia was considered one of the centerpieces of the professional wrestling world. It was a regular haunt for some of professional wrestling's most in-demand superstars. From Bruno Sammartino to Dusty Rhodes to Harley Race to Gary Hart to Killer Kowalski to Bruiser Brody, the sport's most acclaimed international stars toured every corner of the continent, flying from city to city for Jim Barnett's World Championship Wrestling, which aired several times a week on The Nine Network, seeing these top stars and more battle for the IWA World Championship.
Like all great things, WCW had a finite lifespan and as the years turned to decades, the landscape of professional wrestling changed across the world, Australia and beyond as promotions great and small rose and fell. WWE and a different, Turner Broadcasting-owned WCW visited Down Under regularly. The short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars briefly lit the night sky with a cavalcade of rising stars and grizzled veterans and then, a new generation of warriors rose to take their place as the definitive stars of Australia. This new breed of talents were unleashed, taking audiences on emotional roller coasters with their own unique style of combat sports inside the ring.
Some have traveled the world. Some have remained in Australia, the guardians of today's professional wrestling down under. All have earned respect worldwide.
This week on FITE, that new generation will be celebrated when World Series Wrestling turns the clock back to the old days of WCW, presenting a series of massive events live on FITE, allowing the world to once again spotlight Lucky Country and some of the biggest international stars from Australia, The United States and beyond on Friday July 8th from Adelaide, Saturday July 9th and Sunday July 10th from Melbourne before the tour culminates in Monday Sydney on July 11th, four major events that can ordered right here on FITE with the World Series Wrestling Phoenix Rising Bundle.
For the internationally renowned names on the tour - John Hennigan, Chelsea Green, Alex Zayne, Flip Gordon, Joey Janela and others, this is yet another series of matches to dominate and win, to earn the championships and the winner's share of the purse that comes with another job well done as they continue to carve out their careers. They are seeking to spend the week accentuating their star power and then continue on to their next destination as they seek to ascend to the next level of their careers. Their names are already engraved in the time capsule of professional wrestling.
For Australia's homegrown combatants, however, this week is far more personal. While some, including Shazza McKenzie, Robbie Eagles and Caveman Ugg have found success touring internationally in the United States and Japan, as the old film states, there's no place like home. For these stars, as well as The Natural Classics, Jack Bonza, The Parea, Mick Morette, Emman the Kid and so many other talented in-ring fighters, there is no choice here but to be victorious. To lose in front of their countrymen is not only just another loss on another given night, it's a humiliation that will stain their careers locally for months to come, for they will know every time they cross paths with another one of their fellow Australians that an outside came in and bested them on the week they were hand-picked to patriotically represent Oz.
Some of the main events already announced for this week's World Series Wrestling Phoenix Rising events:
Alex Zayne vs. Buddy Matthews
While these two stars are distinctly talented in-ring fighters, Zayne and Matthews are also uniquely connected through their own journeys in professional wrestling, having fought from their early beginnings to earn their way to WWE, only to see each of them criminally underutilized before exiting the company.
Having to reboot their lives and career back on level one, Zayne found his way to Impact Wrestling and New Japan, earning his stripes. For Matthews, a worldwide tour followed by his incursion into AEW have been the recipe for success. Each of their paths lead them against each other this week at WSW's tour opening event, which also serves as Matthews' return home to Australia.
This sets the stage for Zayne looking to continue his accelerating path of stardom internationally, but to do so means he has to stop the path of rage that has been Matthews in recent months. Add in the added pressure of trying to accomplish that in Matthew's home country and it may be a long tour for Alex Zayne right out of the gate.
Chelsea Green vs. Taya Valkyrie vs. Tenille Dashwood
If there was ever a true prodigal daughter of the professional wrestling scene in modern day Australia, it is and will always remain Tenille Dashwood.
The first Australian-born talent to be signed by World Wrestling Entertainment in many years, Dashwood broke the mold and changed the trajectory of women's wrestling as part of the core roster of the earliest WWE NXT Black and Gold generation before having successful runs on the WWE's main roster and then Impact Wrestling. Now, for the first time in many years, she returns home to Australia to once again attempt to reign supreme in her homeland, an opportunity made ever sweeter by the chance to capture championship gold on her first night home.
On the first night of the Phoenix Rising tour, Dashwood will vy for a chance to become the new WCW Women's Champion, stepping into a Triple Threat match against two of the toughest competitors across the cosmos of women's professional wrestling, Chelsea Green and Taya Valkyrie.
Since returning to the international scene after her own run in WWE NXT, Taya has been on a strong run, winning the AAA Reina de Reinas Championship as well as the Impact Wrestling Knockouts Tag Team titles with Rosemary. She immediately returned to her former reputation as one of the most dangerous competitors inside the ring and seeks to accentuate her incredible recent accomplishments with yet another championship belt over her shoulder.
For Dashwood and Taya alike, the Canadian-born Chelsea Green is a formidable threat, indeed, taking all of her international abilities and meshing them with some of the most manipulative mind game strategies possible while in cahoots with her husband, former NWA Champion Matt Cardona.
WSW represents a moment in time for each of these ultra-talented competitors: For Dashwood, a chance to return home with a great victory before friends and family; For Green, a chance to ruin the day for everyone and bask in her own glory, for Taya a chance to continue to relish her success and make everyone who doubted her rue the day they did so
Brian Cage vs. Buddy Matthews:
Forget King Kong vs. Godzilla in Hong Kong last year, the true kaiju battle that will rock the world will take place this week in Australia when Buddy Matthews returns home the conquering hero to battle American intruder Brian Cage, the Lucha Underground, AEW and Ring of Honor combatant who has crushed many a foe with his insanely dangerous powerbombs. This war will test the mettle of Matthews physically in a way most opponents cannot, but it also provides him a chance to prove once and for all that he's one of Australia's most formidable professional wrestlers of this or any other era. If Cage walks out victorious, he dishonors Matthews and Australia, something his mentor Tully Blanchard would eternally relish. Matthews finds himself cast in the most unlikely of roles. This proud member of the House of Black now finds himself the hometown hero, live on FITE.
Slex vs. Buddy Matthews:
The last several years have not been kind to the world at large, but if you were an Australian-born professional wrestler signed to Ring of Honor, it was massively cruel. For many of them, they signed their deals just in time for COVID-19 to hit, forcing them to remain home and not be able to travel the world just as their moment in time was finally earned after years of grinding across Australia. With the gears of ROH slowly dying before being sold to Tony Khan, the opportunities disappeared the farther the world persevered against COVID-19. For many combatants from Down Under, including Slex, the last few years represent opportunities lost and opportunities he and others now strive to somehow resurrect.
It's only fitting that during the WSW Phoenix Rising tour this week on FITE that Slex battles one of Australia's most successful sons, Buddy Matthews. For Matthews, this bout is part of a longer homecoming. For Slex, this week represents a chance to remind the international audience that the 35-year old is just as good as he ever was, if not better, and provides a springboard to more international opportunity, success and victories.
Brian Cage vs. Robbie Eagles vs. John Hennigan
The WSW Phoenix Rising tour-ending event Sydney looks to promise one of the most intriguing, unique and fascinating matches of all of FITES broadcasts this week. John Hennigan, known under an infinite number of surnames, may end rising to become Johnny Australia this week if he can maintain his globe-crossing international success across the four WSW live events, but the true feather in his cap would be a victory in this Three-Way Dance.
We've already reviewed the frightening juggernaut that is Brian Cage but like so many other homelanders in WSW, Robbie Eagles represents some of the best pure professional talent to represent Oz internationally, especially with his great success in New Japan Pro Wrestling. For Eagles, this tour represents the chance to match himself with some of the most renowned competitors from across the globe and should he defeat them, he enlarges the spotlight not just upon himself but all the other Australian competitors in World Series Wrestling and beyond, showing the world that Australia is just as mighty a wrestling country as it was many years ago and that while the names of the fighters and promotions change, the reality of what Australia has and will mean to professional wrestling never, ever will.
The WSW Phoenix Rising Tour on FITE will feature many, many other stars including Joey Janela, Caveman Ugg, Flip Gordon, Impact Wrestling's Trey Miguel, Adam Brooks, Mat Diamond and many, many more, live exclusively on FITE!
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.