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  1. Thanks @Satyr24and @KyTeran for the kind words and for sticking with it for so long, and to @DinoKea for such detailed and helpful feedback. It's definitely true about the two big resets at War Machine 2022 and Hardcore Heatwave 2024 being very similar in suddenly handing a heel group all the gold, and it making the next few months a little too predictable as they needed to be established as champions and a dominant unit. I don't know how I was oblivious to almost always having a heel champion until it was pointed out recently. I used to look on a show-to-show basis at trying to balance out face and heel wins but somehow had a blind spot for that bigger picture, especially that 20 months you mentioned with Edwards and Mattell holding it consecutively. I never learnt my lesson as even the final show had the two headline matches won by heels, so this is definitely something to look at in future. Thanks for the kind words about midcard progression. The weekly show definitely helped, as the first two years were probably a bit too Milton/Edwards/Cult/Barracudas-centric, but that gave me space to experiment more and, like you say, give people like Rick Horn things to do even if they couldn't fit onto every major card. I'm glad it didn't outstay its welcome for you as this was a concern I had, especially sticking to a thin roster for three years with a slow rate of change. It was useful for booking focus and discipline, but I feared could be repetitive to read about. That's good to know about presentation too. I'm so grateful you and others persevered without much visual presence, especially given other dynasties are so nice to look at. I wasn't sure if putting more time into presentation would be a necessity for future dynasties, and how to balance the time that would take with the amount I like to write, but maybe it isn't as much of a priority as I thought. The suggestion of images for the roster rundown makes total sense though, to help get that initial picture of them in your head. Thanks again.
  2. Part 140: What ifs You’ve read what happened over the last three years and a flavour of what would’ve been next, so I guess the only thing left to cover is the what ifs. The one I had no control over was The Barracudas’ implosion in 2023. I felt it was one of the most interesting stories DIW had to tell, a rare opportunity to play with decades of history in and out of the ring, and I would’ve liked to see if I could’ve done it justice if Blitz Simpson hadn’t left. Likewise, when it looked like we might have a chance to bring him back in early 2024, my mind was racing with ideas of how it could play out. In terms of things I had clear influence over, a lot came back to when Cesar Sionis left for CEW in March 2024. It was a really big deal for Wrecker to be the one who sent him away, and I probably could’ve capitalised on it more. He’d been on every major show, often programmed in big matches, but he was usually beating someone beneath him or losing to someone above him, never having that rocket fully strapped. That might have played into him becoming more selfish in 2025, realising he had to be ruthless to force his way into DIW Title contention. My tentative plan was for him to lose cheaply to Hack The Hunter at War Machine, with bitterness triggering a mentality shift that would see him take the Australian Title off ally Hendrix Hughes, setting up Seb Shaw’s return. Then Wrecker would hold that gold through to September’s ladder match to become DIW’s first double champion. But he wasn’t my biggest what if from Cesar’s departure. Given the actual direction played out pretty well, you may be surprised to hear that the thing I found myself second-guessing most when I looked back on my DIW days was whether I should’ve given Lloyd Banks the chance to be Ares Death Cult’s lead wrestler. It probably sounds like an over-promotion because you know the other blokes in that role were Gyula Lakatos, Rob Edwards and Bryant Hall – all DIW Champions – but I’d argue it only feels like it doesn’t fit because you didn’t get a chance to see it. I had no plans for Banks when I first became booker but he was probably the breakout performer of 2022’s year-long Barracudas-Ares Death Cult feud before helping to elevate the Australian Title throughout 2023. Hall and Ares Death Cult made sense – it gave him a mouthpiece and people who could represent him in the ring on the weeks that he wasn’t around – but it pushed Banks into that representative role which put a ceiling on how much he could achieve. I’d made a more concerted effort to keep him strong in the second half of 2024, making sure he was always figured in on major shows, but him taking those opportunities in his stride just made me wonder even more if he could’ve been doing the same thing higher up the card. These what ifs were the reason I went back on my initial War Machine plans upon realising it was likely to be my last show and had Wrecker and Banks both go over. I couldn’t control how my replacement booked them, but I could make sure they were heading into 2025 hot to increase their chances of being handled well. I added my table spot for similar reasons: to get The Apocalypse’s heat back after their shock defeat and ensure I went out on my back. Back to the what ifs I had no control over, that period when CEW took Blitz, Gyula, Cesar and Mr. Blitz in quick succession, it was impossible not to plan an exit story for Edwards, as it seemed like a matter of time. As his series with Milton Hittlespitz was tied at 2-2 and they always delivered, that had to be his end game. However, the idea that intrigued me – one that might have been harder to sell The Comedian on than breaking up The Barracudas in 2023 – was what if Edwards won that decider? How would it have played out if Crazy Blue, DIW’s homegrown hero, had failed everyone by letting a defector leave with his arm raised? Would he become a pariah? Would the crowd turn on him? Would he turn on them? I guess some questions are destined to be forever left unanswered. ---------- And that's a wrap after 240 parts and 163,400 words. Thanks again for reading. That sense of underutilising Lloyd Banks was definitely amplified by him finishing the dynasty as DIW's joint-third-most-over wrestler after the merest hint of a push. If there's anything you were left wondering about or any loose ends that weren't adequately wrapped up, let me know and I'll answer as fully as possible. Likewise, any booking/writing/posting feedback on what could've been done better will be gratefully received to try and make any future projects better (eg if posts were too long/too frequent, if the dynasty outstayed its welcome, if it needed more engagement opportunities like competitions, or at the very least the occasional picture 😅). I do realise though that there are many better things to be doing this close to Christmas than giving feedback on a now-defunct dynasty😆
  3. Another really fun show, as they all are, with an interesting ending in showing Mo Adebola in an unusually heroic light and highlighting Edison Silva's lack of concern for him. A rough night for Frisby and the increasing cracks in his Foundation, but he's such a strong personality that his associates aren't too dependent on wins and losses. Big Mac got over as a menace even with Nate Manchester presumably refusing to put him over and, as a bonus, this whole angle gave Leo Price even more to work with. It's just a shame he refuses to put his working boots on for you as he's leaving money on the table. I was intrigued with the Bret Heartbreak angle if you always had it planned that he wouldn't make it and Red Dragon would step in, or if he shoot didn't make the anticipated weight loss in time for the show.
  4. Thanks so much @AboardTheArk. I recall you replying right at the start of the first thread and you stuck with it all the way through. I'm really grateful for the support, especially coming from someone who wrote a dynasty so great it encouraged me to finally branch out from Oceania, explore Canada and start a CGC save earlier this year. Part 139: What would’ve been next My tentative outline for Hardcore Heatwave 2025 before giving up the DIW book was to blow off The Pros’ story a year after they were formed in a four-on-four match pitting Dexter Mattell, Donovan Boon, Rusty Mills and Kobra The Conqueror against former members Con McReady and Seth Wish, joined by Milton Hittlespitz and Rob Edwards. The build would’ve explored the fractures in both teams, with The Wild Things and The Dream Team perhaps facing one another to work through their differences, and the growing distance between Kobra and Mattell and The Benchmark at the end of 2024 continuing to affect The Pros. Vaughan would have fought Bryant Hall for the DIW Title in the semi-main event on the condition that, if he lost, he’d never get another chance to add to his five reigns. Wrecker was probably going to challenge Australian Champion Hendrix Hughes having overseen his victory and Hack The Hunter would face Chopper Rourke to likely determine the next DIW Title contender. The Apocalypse would get a rematch with The Barbarians, potentially setting them on the collision course I’d teased from the start with The Benchmark. If there was room for another match, I might have explored the unlikely alliance between dad-to-be Pat Rigsby and Rick Horn against The Street Stallions, so at least you were spared one final thrown together tag team.
  5. Part 138: The betrayal Thanks to SQ for chronicling the marathon that was DIW in 2024. This is Lori taking over again, for reasons that will soon become clear. I’d never bought into this idea that work and personal lives couldn’t mix. I’d met my husband Shawn (Death Ref) and best friend Tatum Richards through work and remained close to Cesar Sionis and Gyula Lakatos even after they’d walked out on DIW for CEW. Then I walked in on my husband and best friend in bed together on Christmas Eve 2024 and my view suddenly shifted. I’d been with DIW since day one, a 15-year run that only The Comedian and Shawn could rival. I was enjoying my time as booker so much and things were going so well that I’d reached a point where I couldn’t imagine myself ever working anywhere else. Now I couldn’t see how I could continue. I pushed ahead with War Machine because I couldn’t let them ruin the show I’d spent a year building to. I’d love to say my professionalism endured but, if you’re reading this, the likelihood is you saw the show, so you know I added a spot where I got to slap Tatum, and another where Shawn fell 20 feet. It wasn’t the right way to do business, but it was what I needed to survive a night of stomach-churning sickness. My Apocalypse table bump was the least painful part. After the show, I told The Comedian what had happened and how hard it had been to drag myself to work. He asked me not to rush anything and see how I felt in a few days. When we met the next Monday, he said he would fire Shawn and Tatum if it was enough to get me to stay. I appreciated his determination to keep me, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have two assets to DIW losing their jobs on my conscience. Every colleague and fan would know why they weren’t there so, whether they stayed or left, the memory of what happened would haunt me any time I stepped inside DIW House. There was no future for me in DIW, which was such a strange conclusion to reach when I had so much excitement for DIW’s future. Rob Edwards and Bryant Hall finally colliding. Milton Hittlespitz and Edwards’ rubber match. Finally getting to run Two Badass MFers v The Benchmark. Testing if anything could break The Wild Things’ partnership. Establishing more main eventers like we’d managed to do in 2024 with Dexter Mattell, Seth Wish and Hall. But more than any individual wrestler or story, I had been so curious to see how far DIW could go. This tiny company The Comedian set up 15 years ago just so he had somewhere he could work without feeling shame now had its own streaming operation and packed venue and put on over 50 shows a year. Was it unsustainable, or was there more growth to come? I wasn’t going to watch on from CEW or somewhere like that, if that’s what you’re thinking. Even the idea of working with Cesar and Gyula again didn’t appeal, as so many of my memories with them involved Shawn and Tatum. So what do you do when the only thing you’ve known is wrestling, but every locker room is filled with memories of your husband and best friend who betrayed you? In April, I’m moving to Canada, not just to bypass winter but because I’d heard a lot over the last few years about the growing women’s scene there. I’d been told in the past that once you stopped working for DIW, you were dead to The Comedian, but that wasn’t my experience. Perhaps because of how long I’d worked with him, what we’d achieved together and because I hadn’t betrayed him for a competitor, he really had my back, hooking me up with East Side Assassin to connect me with people who could help me find work there. My plan was to work as many independent shows as I could in the second half of 2025 – as a manager, a wrestler, whatever was needed – to try to build some relationships and convince people of my worth – with a view to hopefully finding a permanent spot somewhere by the start of 2026. Wish me luck. ---------- I won't be able to write up another year of 54+ shows any time soon, so I wanted to give the dynasty a proper ending, rather than suddenly stop mid-story. And leave open the possibility of a future 2026 sequel once @lavelleuk's next remarkable labour of love is complete. It's confirmed to have six Canadian women's promotions, so it felt like a logical place for Lori to try to start over, especially with ESA able to help get her connected. There are still two more parts coming up looking at what would've come next for DIW and booking regrets. Thanks so much to anyone who's followed along, including those named at the end of the last post for being such active participants (as well as of course to @Adam Ryland for this incredible game and immersive world and @lavelleuk for the brilliant mod and imaginative spin on that world). I doubt I would've kept going for three years and 240 parts without the encouragement and invaluable story-shaping feedback. I'm sorry we didn't realise Bonnie Bogan: DIW Champion or Pat Rigsby: Father of the Year in this timeline, but who knows what the future holds.
  6. I suspect this may be a fairly common one but, if I'm playing as a recently retired owner, I tend to bring myself out of retirement for a short run to put over my next generation of stars, hoping the popularity I have to pass down overrides the stamina shortage. I did this with The Comedian on the default database to establish Boo Smithson, Shogo and Mace Mueller as DIW's new headliners and with Alex DeColt on the 2022 Alt CVerse to try to cement Skip Beau and Aaron Knight (the man of many alter egos was revealed as Adrian Garcia's younger brother in this universe for one final DeColt-Garcia chapter) as CGC top heels.
  7. Part 137: Best and worst of DIW 2024 Fighter of the Year: Rusty Mills Really I should’ve known better given The Benchmark were my blokes, but I never foresaw there being a time when Rob Edwards was still with DIW but facing competition for the title of the company’s best worker. It was almost impossible to separate Edwards and Mills. I’d even decided to let it come down to who shone brightest at War Machine, and still couldn’t split them. So my reasoning for picking Mills was that when I wrote down my five best DIW matches of 2024, he had been in four of them. The Human Weapon was only one short of that total, but that was almost expected of him at this stage as a four-time DIW Champion who carried the belt throughout 2023. Mills by contrast was hitting new heights, holding the Tag Titles twice and defeating four former DIW Champions one-on-one along the way. Even if you dispute my pick, hopefully you agree with me on the most important point: DIW need to give us a one-on-one rematch between the pair in 2025, especially as their first showdown only touched the surface. Most Popular Fighter: Rob Edwards This is another honour that I sense was trickier for me to pick this year than for Lori in the past, in part because there’s a much larger body of work to assess: 54 shows rather than 12. Popular outsiders like Bryant Hall and Warmonger joined the roster and Donovan Boon and Rusty Mills cemented themselves as a main event act. Cases could be made for all four, but instead I’ll side with the constant: Edwards. While in 2023, he was an unbeaten perma-DIW Champion who had aligned with Ares Death Cult to solidify his spot on top, he faced more adversity in 2024 after deserting them. Despite dipping out in between, he headlined the first and last major shows of the year, and the first and last episodes of To The Extreme. Some will reasonably feel his final eight months of 2024 were wasted in the tag division, culminating in an unlikely partnership with former nemesis Milton Hittlespitz and four-month Tag Title run. However, him taking that path created space for Dexter Mattell, Seth Wish and Hall to emerge as DIW Champions, and he remained an attraction throughout. The greatest testament to his star power was how he was able to elevate Mattell and The Benchmark without diminishing his own popularity. He might’ve been matched or even shaded in-ring by Mills in 2024, but he remained DIW’s MVP. Rising Star: Lloyd Banks I can’t quite believe I’m not giving this award to Seth Wish. The year-defining angle was set up with the clear objective of launching him into the main event and he’d been in DIW Title matches at the final four major shows of the year, having faced Milton Hittlespitz (and Kobra The Conqueror) and Rob Edwards at the first two. It really was a dream breakout year. However, it was impossible to ignore how hot Banks got in December, even before his shock pinfall over Hatemonger. Someone who didn’t even fight on a major show in the first half of the year (which felt like an oversight at the time given his prominence over the prior two years, even being given this award by Lori in 2022) continued to gain popularity without a spotlight. Then Banks scaled new heights when he finally got the exposure of welcoming The Apocalypse back to DIW. As with Wrecker earlier in the year, the question was whether there was a path for him to climb any higher up the card than he was now. Honourable mentions to Wrecker and newcomers Hack The Hunter and Rick Horn for significant popularity spikes across 2024 too. Falling Stars: The Apocalypse This was a difficult category this year. With the switch to weekly shows exposing DIW to a far wider audience on first WrestleWorld Australia then DIWO, no DIW regulars were less popular now than a year ago, even if some like The Barracudas weren’t acquiring new fans at as fast a rate as their colleagues. So the only blokes who were less popular than on their arrival were The Apocalypse after the surprise decision to have them lose their first DIW match in over a decade to The Barbarians. I’d seen fan speculation that this was a Momoe Hamuera situation and they’d disappear from the roster after a War Machine defeat to Ares Death Cult, but Lori earlier teased them facing The Benchmark and usually delivered on such foreshadowing, so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them. Match of the Year: The Dream Team v The Benchmark (War Machine 2024) Milton Hittlespitz, Rob Edwards, Donovan Boon and Rusty Mills competed in seven singles, tag or six-man bouts together in the second half of 2024, with each side picking up three wins heading into the decider. It was to their credit that not only did they maintain a consistent standard throughout the story that was higher than anything DIW had seen in the past, but that they hit a whole new level for the climax. There was an element of risk to putting what before this year was a midcard heel team over arguably the two biggest stars of your three years with the book clean. However, my initial instinct was that it paid off in cementing The Benchmark as a main event level unit without greatly undermining Hittlespitz or Edwards. Show of the Year: War Machine 2024 War Machine was the first time Lori had the Tag Titles main event over the DIW Title, having probably considered the option at the three prior major events, a decision which was vindicated from a match quality perspective. However, it would be a mistake to consider this a one-match card. It was the highest top-to-bottom offering I’d seen DIW produce. The DIW Title triple threat between Seth Wish, Dexter Mattell and Bryant Hall would’ve been a worthy main event at any other major show this year, Wrecker and Hack The Hunter didn’t let their subpar selling stop them from putting on a show and nothing on the card felt out of place. Major Show Main Event Count (6 shows) 4: Dexter Mattell 3: Seth Wish 2: Milton Hittlespitz, Rob Edwards 1: Bryant Hall, Donovan Boon, Rusty Mills Overall Main Event Count (54 shows) 17: Seth Wish 16: Dexter Mattell 14: Milton Hittlespitz 13: Rusty Mills 12: Donovan Boon, Rob Edwards 8: Con McReady, Kobra The Conqueror, Lloyd Banks 7: Vaughan 6: Chopper Rourke, Hendrix Hughes, Wrecker 5: Rick Horn 3: Bryant Hall, D.O.A., Mr. Pink/Blitz, Psych Ward 2: Cesar Sionis, Lorenzo Oliverio, Seb Shaw 1: Hack The Hunter, Mayhem Mulhoney, Switchblade (RIP) ---------- Thanks for your predictions throughout the year. I've got @KyTeran as 2024 winner on points scored and @John Lions winning on strike rate. Points: @KyTeran 19, @John Lions 18, @AboardTheArk 16, @Satyr24 15, @Tiberious 14, @DinoKea 13, @HiPlus 13, @Scottie 4 Strike Rate: @John Lions 81.8%, @Tiberious 77.8%, @AboardTheArk 72.7%, @DinoKea 72.2%, @Satyr24 68.2%, @KyTeran 67.9%, @Scottie 66.7%, @HiPlus 59.9%
  8. Part 136: Crowded House I knew War Machine 2024 was a success before the show had even began when The Comedian told me on arrival at the commentary desk that they’d had to turn away over 500 fans. With the faintest hint of excitement in his voice, he explained that this sellout ensured DIW had resumed profitability for the first time in the 16 months since launching their first streaming deal. The Comedian and Lori’s big gamble on the promotion’s future appeared to have paid off. The one move that didn’t look so shrewd was DIW House: they’d exceeded the initial capacity within eight months of moving in and had just spent two months expanding it, only to immediately outdraw the new allocation. Did they have the space and planning permission to go bigger still? I decided to let him enjoy his moment of vindication rather than press him on those issues. Onto the event itself, I wanted to clarify a few things before writing this part, but frustratingly I hadn’t been able to find Lori after the show. Perhaps her or Death Ref were being checked over after their bumps. Still, I was pretty certain the DIW Title match had initially been intended to close, not least because it had the big crowd-pleasing finish of Seth Wish’s Suicide Senton off the scaffolding (which I’m mad at myself for buying as a legitimate legacy of the recent expansion). What I believe had happened was that the spectacular performances of Milton Hittlespitz, Rob Edwards, Donovan Boon and Rusty Mills in their singles matches at the final taping before War Machine convinced Lori that it was impossible to deny them the main event. It was ultimately the right call too because the rematch was so much better than the original Tag Title match, which at the time marked a new high point for DIW, and easily the best bout in company history. However, one negative side-effect was the messy transition between the DIW Title and Tag Title matches in which Markus Rush informed viewers firstly that The Benchmark had just arrived and, equally implausibly, that Dexter Mattell and Kobra The Conqueror left mere moments later. I imagine with the original running order, The Benchmark would’ve left to celebrate after their match rather than sticking around to support Mattell, reasoning that they’d been there for him recently but he didn’t return the favour when his support would’ve been useful on the go-home show. That would’ve had a bit more nuance and believability than arriving late for a huge match. Nothing on the undercard was on the level of the main event, but nothing stunk up the show either. The only lull was the Rick Horn, Pat Rigsby and Street Stallions segment, but even that felt deliberate to create some time for The Benchmark to arrive and Mattell and Kobra to leave. I thought Mattell v Bryant Hall on To The Extreme last month shaded the Wish triple threat, but it was still the best of the seven DIW Title matches held on major events in 2024. Likewise, Hendrix Hughes and Kobra The Conqueror’s lack of chemistry didn’t stop their clash from being the Australian Title’s year high point, feeling like a worthy culmination of Hughes’ 10-month battle to establish himself as a solo act and land a blow on The Pros for taking out Seb Shaw. The other three undercard matches were better though, with Wrecker v Hack The Hunter my third favourite bout of the night just like at Damage Control. I had thought The Apocalypse v The Barbarians might shade it, but not giving the fans the expected outcome temporarily punctured the atmosphere somewhat. The Wild Things v The Barracudas wouldn’t live long in the memory, but was effective as a short, lively opener setting the tone for a breathless night. This was DIW’s best moment yet, and that fact was solidified over the weekend that followed as they were voted Most Improved Company for the first time by Aussie Wrestling subscribers. I’ll give my own DIW year-end awards in the next part, as Lori had shared the ones she picked for her 2022 and 2023 diaries a few weeks ago to show me the categories she was interested in.
  9. Credit: John Lions Part 135: War Machine 2024 We welcomed viewers to the final DIW show of 2024 from a sold-out DIW House. The Comedian gruffly apologised for the venue looking a bit of a dive – there was still scaffolding to the left of the commentary desk, not to mention building materials and a pile of boxes – explaining it was a price we had to pay to get 1,680 fans through the doors in time for War Machine. The Wild Things (Con McReady and Seth Wish) v The Barracudas (Chopper Rourke and Vaughan) This was a short but eventful opener that suited both teams, allowing Wish to leave something in the tank for his later DIW Title match and The Barracudas not to get too blown up. Chopper and Vaughan had most of the offence and, approaching the six-minute mark, were choking McReady and Wish inside and outside the ring respectively with their favoured lead pipes. Wish managed to use the ringside environment to loosen Vaughan’s grip and send him into the steps, before feeding McReady a cane that he struck Rourke with until he released the hold, following up quickly to blast the lead pipe into his face courtesy of an Iron Fist to get the win for his team. Seconds after the bell, Bryant Hall appeared in the entranceway, with Seth Wish showing no interest in vacating the ring, encouraging Hall to confront him. However, Lori emerged behind The Final Boss to talk him out of heading down to meet Wish, assuring Hall that they had him where they wanted him already and he wouldn’t have to wait much longer to finish the job. Wrecker v Hack The Hunter These were two men I expected to compete for the DIW Title in 2025 and, whereas I thought Wrecker looked more ready for that step up in their initial meeting, this was Hack The Hunter’s most accomplished showing to date. They’d been engaging in an unusually friendly rivalry for over three months, watching one another’s backs and even briefly teaming together, but the hostility increased as this match developed, with their mutual disinterest in selling almost fitting the story being told in not wanting to show the other was getting the upper hand. It was Hack The Hunter who hit his Hack Attack finisher first, though Wrecker had the foresight to roll out of the ring to prevent a quick cover. When Hack followed him outside and tried to pull him to his feet, Wrecker caught him off guard with the Bulldozer Elbow. He was ruthless in exploiting his advantage, grabbing Hack through the ropes as he returned to the ring and planting him with a DDT and following up with a third big move, his Mighty Bulldog, to become only the second man to pin the heavyweight in DIW. Wrecker waited for Hack The Hunter to return to his feet before leaving the ring, wanting to embrace his opponent. Hack looked unusually hacked off, initially appearing to push him away before eventually pulling him in for only the second post-match handshake I’d seen in DIW. The Apocalypse (Hatemonger and Warmonger) v The Barbarians (Lloyd Banks and Psych Ward) This was exactly what I expected for seven minutes: The Apocalypse entered second to a huge reaction, enjoyed two-thirds of the offence and pulled together a sequence of their most popular power moves, all building up to dropping Ward with Apocalypse Nowish. One. Two. Then a stop. Lori had pulled referee Tatum Richards up off the mat to stop the count. Then, when Richards reasonably asked what the hell was going on, Lori slapped her so hard she fell to the mat. She couldn’t get too smug about her intervention though as The Apocalypse switched their attention to her. Hatemonger chased her out of the ring, with Warmonger looking to follow only to get pushed into the turnbuckle by Ward, who tagged in Banks for the Spike Piledriver and a win I don’t think anyone in DIW House besides the booker had seen coming. All was not over though as Hatemonger caught Lori by the entranceway, with Warmonger quick to join his partner. Hatemonger handed Lori to Warmonger so he could take care of The Barbarians, lifting up the lighter Lloyd Banks, who was conveniently first to approach, and launching him into Psych Ward. They then proceeded to hit Apocalypse Nowish on Lori through our announce table. Bryant Hall and Death Ref appeared a few seconds too late to intervene, the lights going out before the four male Ares Death Cult members could set upon The Apocalypse, who were gone when they returned. I pointed out Lori had legal protection from such attacks, with The Comedian remarking that she should send her lawyers after The Apocalypse, not him. Australian Title: Hendrix Hughes v Kobra The Conqueror (c) Hughes was out first as the challenger so decided to get on the microphone to hype the fans but, before he could speak, he took an Australian Title shot to the back of the head from Kobra The Conqueror, who had snuck in through the crowd. That set the Badass MFer up for a night of fighting from underneath, disrupted on occasion by miscommunications between the pair. It was clear the chemistry wasn’t quite right for these first-time opponents, but DIW House was fairly forgiving. Kobra floored Hughes with a Small Package Driver, yet he managed a last-gasp kickout. Kobra reached for his snakeskin belt in frustration, getting caught with the Triple H. Dexter Mattell emerged from the same part of the crowd that Kobra entered through earlier, but it appeared Hughes’ ally Wrecker had been anticipating it, running down the ramp with a cricket bat and promising Mattell that he’d swing for him if he entered the ring. Amidst the commotion, Hughes hit Kobra with a second Triple H and pinned him for his first singles title. Hendrix Hughes headed into the crowd with the Australian Title to soak in his moment, lighting a ciggie when he got to the top of the lower tier with fans surrounding him. The camera cut back to Dexter Mattell, who had entered the ring now Wrecker wasn’t looming over him with a cricket bat, and The Comedian announced it was time for our DIW Title triple threat match. DIW Title: Seth Wish v Dexter Mattell v Bryant Hall (c) The first two phases of this match were triple threat staples: alliances being formed and quickly broken, then extended one-on-one stretches as the spare man recovered outside. Where it diverged from the formula was when outsiders started getting involved, with Kobra The Conqueror returning to ringside to assist Mattell, which brought out Lloyd Banks and Psych Ward on Hall’s side, prompting Con McReady to back Wish up. This led to the surreal spectacle of Kobra and McReady – who had been on opposite sides all year, even switching – working together to cancel out The Barbarians. With those four occupying one another, Wish dived through the ropes to send Hall crashing into the railings. He was caught in an STF by Mattell on his return to the ring, but managed to wriggle out and then caught Raw Sex with Dust In The Wind, covering for one, two and thr… no, Death Ref jumped on top of him to break the fall. When Wish realised what happened, Death Ref rushed out of the ring, but Wish followed him up the ramp. Seeing what was going down, McReady blocked the entranceway with his cane, so Death Ref decided to scale the scaffolding instead. Wish didn’t hesitate to pursue him, having to sell ankle pain to explain why he wasn’t catching him quicker. About 20 feet in the air, he finally caught the Ares Death Cult leader, who begged off but couldn’t persuade Wish not to slam his head into the scaffolding, launching him backwards onto the boxes and assorted debris a long way below, a bump an untrained 49-year-old surely shouldn’t be taking. Wish looked down for a second at the man who had attacked him when he appeared on the cusp of victory at successive major shows, before deciding to come off the scaffolding on top of him with a Suicide Senton. Before the crowd had a chance to come down from the high of the two big spots, Hall was back in the ring to take Mattell out with the S.T.O. and complete his second successful title defence. Bryant Hall, Lloyd Banks and Psych Ward headed up the ramp with the DIW Title, helping Death Ref up at the entranceway and dragging him back with them. Wish came round to cheers just as a dejected Dexter Mattell and Kobra The Conqueror were struggling up the ramp, deciding to drop Raw Sex one last time with Dust In The Wind at the top of the stage to make himself feel better, before Con McReady helped him to the back. For the first and last time this year, there was one more match to go after the DIW Title bout, so we threw back to Markus Rush by the entrance to DIW House. He revealed that The Benchmark had only arrived a few minutes ago but, before he had a chance to explain further, he said that he’d heard from his cameraman that there was a commotion a few corridors away. We saw Lorenzo Oliverio approach Pat Rigsby. He initially appeared to offer congratulations on his baby news, but clarified he was congratulating Bonnie Bogan. He hoped for her and the kid’s sake Rigsby wasn’t the father so she didn’t give birth to another loser like him. Rigsby asked him if he wanted to come a bit closer and repeat that, but got hit from behind by D.O.A. They started kicking the father-to-be, who received some unlikely assistance from recent foe Rick Horn, causing The Street Stallions to back up. When we cut back to Rush, he asked the cameraman to zoom behind him, where Dexter Mattell and Kobra The Conqueror could be seen getting in a car and leaving DIW House after their title losses, not hanging around to support their fellow Pros. Tag Titles: The Dream Team (Milton Hittlespitz and Rob Edwards) (c) v The Benchmark (Donovan Boon and Rusty Mills) I should start by saying there’s no way my write-up will do this match justice. Indeed, it won’t sound as exciting as what came immediately before on paper as this was a standard wrestling match, albeit a wild fast-paced all-out brawl between four wrestlers at the top of their game. It had none of the interference, weapon shots or crazy bumps seen in the DIW Title match. Indeed, the card appeared to have been deliberately designed to alternate between hardcore wars and more straight-up matches, closing on the later. There were still clear faces and heels, with Hittlespitz and Edwards on top whenever they got a one-on-one stretch but being ground down whenever The Benchmark managed to isolate either of them. Edwards suffered most, with Boon and Mills taking turns to work over his right leg to try to stop the Roundhouse Kick. He finally gave Hittlespitz a hot tag to clean house, but Mills ran in when it looked like he had Boon beat, dropping him onto the top rope. That brought Edwards in, hitting Mills with a Backfist then catching Boon with his Roundhouse Kick. The Human Weapon was hurting from the exertion and Mills took him over the top rope with a Northern Lights Suplex throw, but the momentum took Mills over too. With Boon out, Hittlespitz climbed the turnbuckle for the Flying Knee Drop. Boon recovered into a half-upright position just before the contact though, with Mills back alongside him to help catch Crazy Blue with the Double Down. Boon scored a three count to regain the Tag Titles for The Benchmark and hand The Dream Team their first ever defeat. The Comedian and I both showed a degree of disbelief about the finish until a replay showed Donovan Boon had missed almost all the contact from the Roundhouse Kick and was playing possum. A second replay showed Rusty Mills had landed on his feet after throwing Rob Edwards to the outside, immediately rolling back under the ropes to catch Milton Hittlespitz. I quickly proclaimed The Benchmark’s genius and noted they had proven what I knew all along: there was only one dream team in DIW, and it was the one with eight Tag Title reigns to their name. The Benchmark were a machine and they had won this six-month war tonight at War Machine. ---------- Thanks for the predictions. By my calculations, @DinoKea and @Satyr24 both scored 3, with @KyTeran taking the win with 4. It looks like The Barbarians' call made the difference, and that was the one I thought would be most unexpected, so congratulations @KyTeran. Part 137 is a review of the best and worst of DIW 2024, so I'll look to add up all prediction scores for the year to accompany that. I really appreciate you three sharing your thoughts, along with everyone else who has posted predictions for other 2024 shows.
  10. I was interested in how you would play out that tag main event with it feeling too early for McKenzie to lose but Mallory being on the winning run, so what you did made sense with Manchester eating the fall and Network expansion being the cause. Like @newbiezness, I wondered if the Byron Breeze conversation was setting them up as Future X's next opponents, just perhaps for the titles if Frisby's Foundation prove a bigger danger to themselves than their opponents. I also loved the latest Bret Heartbreak skit: thanks for the science lesson 😆
  11. Part 134: Getting ready for war From all the evidence at our disposal, War Machine had the potential to be the best DIW card of the year if everything went to plan. The original Dream Team v The Benchmark Tag Team Title match at Hardcore Hallelujah had been the company’s best major event bout so far, and Rob Edwards and Donovan Boon’s match on the last episode of To The Extreme raised the bar even further. So hopes had to be high that they would at least equal their August efforts, regardless of whether Milton Hittlespitz and Edwards continued their unbeaten record as a team or Boon and Rusty Mills got their win back. Seth Wish v Bryant Hall at Damage Control underperformed, but Dexter Mattell’s DIW Title matches with both Wish and Hall delivered so, if he could be the glue in helping a triple threat between the three hit a similar standard, it had a chance of being 2024’s best DIW Title match. The Apocalypse v The Barbarians was Hatemonger and Warmonger’s first DIW match in over a decade. Given their popularity, and the spike in interest in Lloyd Banks in particular in the build to this match, it was likely to get one of the night’s loudest crowd reactions. Whether the quality could match the anticipation would depend on Banks’ injury and how much the returning team had in the tank now both were in their early 40s. Wrecker v Hack The Hunter confused me in the sense that I wasn’t too sure where it was going. It certainly was a very economical build as they’d been interacting for over three months and across two major shows now without any real conflict or superiority, just the loose premise of finding out who was better. However, what we did know was that they had one of the three best matches at Damage Control despite the non-finish so, if they put on a similar show with a proper outcome, it should be one of the highlights of the undercard. Hendrix Hughes v Kobra The Conqueror was an Australian Title clash between two competitors whose personalities and positioning were maybe a bit more compelling than their in-ring output. For that reason, I had lower expectations for this than War Machine’s other two title matches. Still, if it got a hot crowd and flowed well enough, it had a chance of surpassing Con McReady v Hughes at Massacre as the best Australian Title contest of the year. That leaves The Wild Things v The Barracudas, which I anticipate being the shortest match of the night given Wish’s double duty and Chopper Rourke and Vaughan’s age. It was technically a first-time attraction given their initial November showdown on To The Extreme turned into a handicap match, so it was worth a place on the card, but unlikely to come close to what The Barracudas did with The Dream Team at Damage Control. The other unknown was the crowd, with War Machine the first event since DIW House’s expansion from 1,000 to 1,680 seats, for which building work appeared to have gone to the wire. DIW drew 1,491 fans to Sydney for Damage Control. This was a better card with The Benchmark, The Apocalypse and Hughes in action, plus no nonsense Pat Rigsby match, so it should beat that Sydney turnout, while still probably falling short of the new capacity. ---------- Coming up tomorrow, with thanks to @John Lions for the killer artwork: DIW Title: Seth Wish v Dexter Mattell v Bryant Hall (c) Tag Titles: The Dream Team (Milton Hittlespitz and Rob Edwards) (c) v The Benchmark (Donovan Boon and Rusty Mills) Australian Title: Hendrix Hughes v Kobra The Conqueror (c) The Apocalypse (Hatemonger and Warmonger) v The Barbarians (Lloyd Banks and Psych Ward) Wrecker v Hack The Hunter The Wild Things (Con McReady and Seth Wish) v The Barracudas (Chopper Rourke and Vaughan)
  12. Every Frisby Foundation and Dangermouth-Byron interaction is so good. I've never played a UK save before but love this roster so much just from how you present them. Mallory-Silva is building up nicely, and feels fresh enough that I think you can get multiple months out of it if you want, especially with Big Mac on the periphery. I'm also intrigued by Leo Price's role going forward: if he'll continue to serve as Dangermouth's mentor (which has plenty of mileage in itself, especially if he ends up crossing Silva and Adebola's paths again) or if he returns to a position with oversight of the full roster. This episode instantly made Darin Flynn seem like a big deal with a manager, TV debut and first big match already lined up, and also created plenty of intrigue around your upcoming tag and cruiserweight challengers.
  13. Part 133: To The Extreme #48 (Christmas Day Edition) Credit: John Lions The show opened with me hyping the main event by speculating over whether The Benchmark would celebrate Christmas with a fourth straight singles victory over the so-called Dream Team when Donovan Boon faced Rob Edwards. The Comedian didn’t even acknowledge the question, instead expressing disgust that I turned up wearing a Santa hat. I cried Grinch and reminded viewers of the theme of the evening: everyone competing would pick a gift from the table next to us on their way to the ring, with it containing a weapon they could use in their match. Boot Camp Mikey and Ice Ice Davey v The Barbarians (Lloyd Banks and Psych Ward) The Barbarians were first out and Death Ref quickly picked their box, which proved to be a stocking wrapped in barbed wire. The Comedian noted that he appeared to have fixed their selection. Opponents named Mikey and Davey might be mistaken for a cheerleader duo if this was an American promotion, but were in fact two fierce former Athletic Empire competitors, who ended up with a chain, which I noted was often utilised by Ares Death Cult. Mikey and Davey were more established than the outsiders DIW usually brought in for one offs, which was why they were given a lot of early shine, including some chain-based offence, but The Barbarians’ greater cohesion helped them take control. While Mikey and Ward were legal, Banks jumped Davey in his corner and took him out with a Piledriver onto the hard floor. He then struck Mikey in the back with the barbed wire stocking while he was running the ropes, with Ward quickly capitalising with a Psycho Slam for the win. The lights went out within seconds of the bell, and the crowd were loud for THE END IS NIGH shout, being left a bit deflated when the lights came back on and The Apocalypse only appeared on the screen above the entrance. As a side note watching on DIWO, the screen close-up drew unwanted attention to the fact there was still scaffolding on the non-commentary desk side of the entrance from the ongoing DIW Arena expansion work. Warmonger said they’d heard Death Ref say they were relics about to become extinct, which surprised them given Ares Death Cult were an Apocalypse tribute act who only had careers in DIW because they left. Well they’re back and better than ever, so nobody needed Ares Death Cult anymore, and we’d see at War Machine who faced extinction. Hatemonger took over, screaming that in other words: THE END IS NIGH. Markus Rush brought us footage of a short conversation he’d captured during the previous match between Wrecker and Hack The Hunter, with Wrecker noting that it was two more days until they finally fought to a finish. Hack said he was looking forward to it, and thanked Wrecker for having his back against The Street Stallions last week. He joked that he was fairly sure Wrecker could survive Pat Rigsby without him by his side, but he’d be watching from the back just in case Rigsby magicked the first friend of his entire life out of his gift box or something. Wrecker v Pat Rigsby Rigsby was out first and went for a garish purple-and-orange-striped box, being left furious when it transpired there was nothing in it. Wrecker’s box contained two cricket balls, making it fairly clear where this one was going. Troll Rigsby went for some low-hanging fruit about non-hanging fruit before the bell, telling his opponent it was the first time anyone could accurately say that Wrecker had balls. Inevitably, he was on his back a few seconds later, and spent much of the next six minutes in a similar predicaments. As you probably guessed, Wrecker connected with his Bulldozer Elbow, then decided to prop Rigsby in the corner in a seated position. He placed a cricket ball between his legs, went to the opposite corner and – in an uncharacteristic display of showmanship proceeded to shine up the other ball before rolling it into the other into Rigsby’s baby-makers, with The Comedian giving a similarly uncharacteristically euphoric “BOWLED HIM” call on commentary. Wrecker dragged a wincing Rigsby up for a Mighty Bulldog to complete his humiliation. In what by this stage I’m fairly sure was a rib on me by Lori, I was instructed to inform Pat Rigsby as he hobbled exaggeratedly up the ramp that his box wasn’t in fact empty. He stuck his hand in it without success, before impatiently tipping it over to reveal with dramatic camera zoom a positive pregnancy test. At this point, Bonnie Bogan appeared on the entranceway, telling him she knew he’d pick the purple and orange box as it matched the trackies she was wearing the day they met. She assured him it was true – he was going to be a dad – and they shared what I’ll journalistically label an enthusiastic embrace. We didn’t quite get the perfect romcom ending though because, after the pashing, Rigsby could be heard asking Bogan what she swapped out the pregnancy test for and, upon hearing it was a spanner, he complained that it would’ve come in handy for the match. I had two consolations at the end of this segment: the fact it was over, and the knowledge that The Comedian would’ve hated it even more than me. Markus Rush played a video he’d been sent from Ares Death Cult. Lori thanked The Comedian for offering Bryant Hall interview time but said there was nothing he needed to say. His actions in the ring last week spoke for him when he not only left his War Machine opponents Seth Wish and Dexter Mattell grounded but their allies too. Lori said War Machine was always Ares Death Cult’s night. Two years ago, they left with all the gold, last year she conquered and banished Momoe Hamuera in a cage and this year was going to be their greatest success of all when they ruined The Apocalypse’s comeback and removed Wish and Mattell from DIW Title contention. Rick Horn v Vaughan Given Vaughan already struggled with stamina at this stage of his career, it probably wasn’t ideal that before this match had already begun, he’d had to huff up the entranceway and back to retrieve his weapon following his usual entrance through the crowd. He ended up with a cane, symbolic given it was most associated with The Barracudas’ War Machine opponents The Wild Things. His preferred weapon, the lead pipe, had been unearthed by Horn on his entrance. Vaughan enjoyed unloading on Horn with the cane early on, but Farm Tough fought through the pain barrier, encouraged by his first ever victory over a heavyweight against Tank earlier in the month. The finish saw him charge at Vaughan with the pipe, get caught with a boot to knock it out of his hands, come back off the ropes fast and catch his veteran opponent with a Facebreaker then line him up for the John Deere Destroyer. Before he could connect, Vaughan grabbed the pipe off the floor with his loose arm and clubbed Horn in the back with it, allowing him to break free and then catch Farm Tough in the Choke Sleeper, using the pipe for leverage to secure the win. I questioned on commentary whether you were actually allowed to use your opponent’s weapon, but The Comedian conceded that it was probably a bit late to expect The Barracudas to start playing by the rules now. Markus Rush next shared a clip he’d received from Kobra The Conqueror and Dexter Mattell, who had also apparently declined the invitation to show up in person to the night’s episode. Mattell admitted last week didn’t go to plan but that was because Bryant Hall ambushed them. Ares Death Cult wouldn’t have the element of surprise at War Machine. He’d beaten Seth Wish for the DIW Title before and he had Hall beaten for it last month. He said War Machine was going to be like Hardcore Heatwave. That was the last show where three men were competing for the DIW Title, including Ares Death Cult, and that night he left as champion. But not only that, The Pros left with all the gold, and they were going to do the same on Friday. That was his way of handing over to Australian Champion Kobra The Conqueror, who claimed that Hendrix Hughes was smug about beating Chopper Rourke last week, but all he’d done was defeat people who Kobra had already conquered. He reasserted that Hughes wasn’t on his level and would choke his Australian Title shot at War Machine just like he did earlier in the year at Massacre. As the camera returned to Markus Rush, he was joined by Con McReady and Seth Wish, the only DIW Title competitor to take the offer of interview time in person. Wish acknowledged that everyone was writing him off, but he said that was fine. People said he couldn’t take the DIW Title away from Dexter Mattell and The Pros and he did. They said he couldn’t compete with Bryant Hall but they both knew he had him beat at Damage Control. Now they said he had no chance of beating them both in the same night at War Machine, but his doubters had short memories, forgetting that he was similarly dismissed before the last DIW triple threat match at Hardcore Heatwave, when he outlasted both Milton Hittlespitz and Kobra The Conqueror. Rush pointed out the beating The Wild Things took last week, and the fact Wish was fighting twice at War Machine, but he said that they were having the time of their lives. McReady agreed, saying he never imagined when he joined DIW that there would be a time when three of the strongest groups in the company’s history – Ares Death Cult, The Pros and The Barracudas – were all gunning for them at once, saying they’d never felt so alive. That was the hostage to fortune to them feeling significantly less alive, as Chopper Rourke and Vaughan jumped them from behind with lead pipes, proceeding to choke them both out with the weapons, stopping once they were already unresponsive to make sure they made it to War Machine. When the cameras returned to us on commentary, I cited this as an example of Wish’s naivety, exposing himself to an attack tonight that Hall and Mattell were both too shrewd to let happen to them. Rob Edwards v Donovan Boon I’d asked how DIW could compete with last week’s 13-man brawl in terms of a compelling go-home segment for War Machine, and it looked like the answer was to put on the best match in company history. Unlike Milton Hittlespitz v Rusty Mills last week, this time both men had their partners at ringside. Boon picked up a BBQ grill grate, while Edwards – always happy to let his hands and feet take care of business – handed his unopened box to a fan in the front row, which they ripped into to reveal a snowglobe. Both men went at it hard from the opening bell, when Boon charged at Edwards with his grill grate but got tripped onto it, unconcerned about suffering a pre-War Machine injury. The final minute saw Edwards building momentum and Mills try to disrupt it by running in with the grill grate, only for Hittlespitz to push his partner out of the firing line, causing Mills to hit Boon instead. Crazy Blue Dropkicked Mills over the ropes and dived through them onto him with the grill grate as The Human Weapon finished off Boon with a Roundhouse Kick. With no Dexter Mattell and Kobra The Conqueror in the building to back up The Benchmark, Milton Hittlespitz and Rob Edwards stood tall to close the show, with Donovan Boon and Rusty Mills frustratedly retreating up the ramp. I closed by wishing the viewers a merry Christmas, but noting that 27th December was the real Christmas Day this year, featuring The Dream Team v The Benchmark, The Apocalypse v The Barbarians, Seth Wish v Mattell v Bryant Hall for the DIW Title and so much more.
  14. Thanks @John Lions. You always have really thought-provoking views on booking philosophy. In this case that, while SQ's stance is natural having only worked in promotions where the driver was getting people in for the next monthly event, DIW fans might be more forgiving due to the chaotic nature. I think it's also true that I'm a bit too melodramatic as, regardless of their popularity, Milton Hittlespitz v Rusty Mills hasn't been built to feel like a big deal, unlike how giving Rob Edwards v Bryant Hall away in a To The Extreme opener might feel wasteful. Just I'm so cautious generally with not giving away too much week-to-week that this shift felt more significant to me that it probably would to viewers. Your Rishi Sunak comment made me laugh too. Sources close to The Barracudas report that Vaughan did indeed invite him to War Machine, but apparently he encountered difficulties locating the messages on his phone 😅 Part 132: A DIW Christmas For better or worse, the closing angle of To The Extreme episode 47 had been the most ambitious and chaotic DIW had ever done: a brawl featuring 13 wrestlers and spotlighting three different War Machine matches. I didn’t have much complaint about the content itself. My biggest issue was that it was a go-home segment, and therefore should’ve been the final scene on the final episode before War Machine. Instead, there was another hour to fill in which no angle could rival the scale of this fight without feeling repetitive. I guess Lori realised the need to manage expectations for the Christmas Day go-home show because they made an announcement in the online previews for the episode doing just that. Interview time had been allocated for DIW Title competitors Bryant Hall, Dexter Mattell and Seth Wish if they wished to use it. However, to ensure the triple threat went ahead two days later as announced, there would be no physical contact between Ares Death Cult, The Pros and The Wild Things. They could pick any other fight they pleased, but if any group broke that one restriction, their competitor would be removed from the War Machine match. That was a buzzkill, but the Christmas Day card was still quite strong, including three matches hyped on the previous episode: Rob Edwards v Donovan Boon, Rick Horn v Vaughan and The Barbarians v Two Former Apocalypse Opponents, with Wrecker v Pat Rigsby announced too. I was at the taping but, as always, I’ll wait until I’ve watched the end product on DIWO before summarising. My wife will be thrilled. I can comment on the Christmas tie-in though. There was nothing too festive about this episode – no Secret Santa gift exchanges or mistletoe kisses. The only seasonal nod was a table of wrapped boxes next to the commentary desk for each wrestler to pick from on their way to the ring, containing a weapon they were free to use in their match. ---------- It wasn't conscious but I realised when I read Wild, Wild, Winter that the Christmas box concept had likely taken inspiration from @willr0ck's Disk of Death, so I just wanted to shout that out with a link. Check it out if you haven't already.
  15. Agreed, War Machine looks great. I really love those NWF Last Orders and Out With The Old graphics too: lifting a great dynasty even higher. Sorry to hear it's proving a heavy month. You're definitely right to go at a pace that's enjoyable and pick promotions and themes that motivate you rather than forcing yourself to do more than is comfortable, or work on something you don't feel connected to yet. As everything in this thread so far shows, when the passion and vision is there, the results are great, whereas if you overexert or feel obligated, you'll only burn yourself out as you say. Not to mention, you've delivered so much cool stuff already that there's plenty for us all to work with while looking forward to any future sets.
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