Israeli Pro Wrestling Association (IPWA) champ Sydal bests …

Israeli Pro Wrestling Association (IPWA) champ Sydal bests …

Wrestling Party is in full swing

Lior Libman (left) and Shay Blanco settle their long rivalry Monday night at the “Wrestling Party” show in Lehavot Haviva.
(photo credit: AARON REICH)

The Israeli Pro Wrestling Association (IPWA) is back at the Bearle Club in Lehavot Haviva after their stellar Passover Bash event for the Wrestling Party event.

The buildup to this event was marred by a series of cancellations and card restructurings, but the result was a great card with a greater focus on local talent rather than on international stars.

The original main event was set to be IPWA champion Matt Sydal defending against David Starr – two established top-level wrestlers internationally. However, with Starr’s cancellation, Sydal was instead set to defend against the winner of a 21-man over-the-top-rope battle royal.

The changes in the card are typical of the wrestling industry, Sydal told The Jerusalem Post. “We always say ‘Card subject to change.’ Even during the match… we always say ‘anything can happen.’” However, the change in card didn’t seem to bother the champ – rather, he looked excited. “It always feels like a homecoming,” he said, referring to coming to Israel. “Coming once is nice, but I get to watch and be part of the growth of this scene, see the talent develop and the crowds get larger.” When asked about the talent, Sydal was quick to praise them. “There are a lot of hungry guys here,” he said.

That could be said about the overall story of the show: who’s the brightest rising star in Israeli wrestling? The battle royal was towards the end of the card, so everyone got to showcase their talent and skills in matches earlier in the night.

There were great matches with standout performances. Guy Landau and Hadar Horovitz woke the crowd up in their opening tag team match, and Idan Boulder looked like a major threat after his bout. The crowd instantly began cheering when “All-Star” by Smash Mouth began playing as Yuval Goldschmidt entered the ring for his match, filled with great spots and high impact moves.

The fourth match had more depth to it: it was the grudge match between Shay Blanco and Lior Libman. The two have a longstanding feud going back years, and their last match at Passover Bash saw Libman hit Blanco with a low blow to pick up the win. This time, the match would have no disqualifications – anything goes.

This match was wild and brutal, with Blanco not wasting any time to score, giving as much offense as possible. There were steel folding chairs, kendo sticks, chains, garbage cans – and at one point, Blanco threw Libman into the table serving hot dogs. Throughout it all, Libman played the role of the perfect heel, working the crowd into a heated frenzy and antagonizing Blanco, whom the crowd was firmly behind. Attention was paid to long-term storytelling in the match, with Blanco wearing an athletic cup to protect himself from another low blow, and him turning the tables in the end by hitting Libman with a low blow of his own.

The fifth match on the card was a first for IPWA, their first ever women’s match. Originally, this match was set to feature British wrestling star Darcy Stone against IPWA’s Gaya Glass, but due to an ACL injury, she was replaced by another UK star, “The Princess of Wales” Nadia Sapphire. The crowd enthusiastically backed the hometown hero Glass while Sapphire worked the crowd into a fury with her taunts on the mic, not wasting a moment to insult the “disgusting” people of this “disgusting, smelly country” in what is probably the most insulting speech about Israel without being anti-Israel. The crowd bought into it, and cheered as the hometown hero picked up a win.

The crowd didn’t have time to rest as Gery “Rabbi Swissa” Roif came out for his match – another result of the changing card, as he was originally slated to face American wrestler Rory Gulak, but instead helped carry another local talent to a great match.

Finally, it was time for the battle royal. Here, the story really shone through as all the wrestlers from the show had a place on the card, but also had to sell their injuries and fatigue from the previous matches. The match was chaotic, with at least two incredible spots happening at any given time. Special mention to Hadar Horovitz, who gained great momentum eliminating 17 different wrestlers from the match.

Ultimately, however, victory went to Yuval Goldschmidt, a result the crowd enthusiastically backed. However, he had no time to rest, as Sydal came out for the main event.

The crowd refused to stay silent as these two incredible performers battled it out in a hard hitting spectacle that couldn’t be confined to the ring, and instead spanned the entire Bearle Club. Both wrestlers had unbelievable high spots – especially impressive, considering the venue’s low ceiling – with Goldschmidt even hitting a standing moonsault and a standing shooting star press. Indeed, there wasn’t any doubt that Goldschmidt is clearly the brightest rising star in Israeli wrestling, but Sydal is still a true master of his craft and didn’t give in an inch.

Goldschmidt was clearly exhausted from his previous matches that night, and ultimately Sydal retained the championship. However, he recognized that this was unfair, and promised Goldschmidt that the next shot was his, whenever he wants.

When asked if that meant Sydal was coming back, his response confirmed it. “I plan to hold onto this [the championship] for a long time,” he told the Post. “If they hold another show, they need their champ.”

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