Israeli pro wrestling is back and bigger than before

A stacked card with major foreign stars started with a slow build, and ended with a standing ovation.

Sammy Guevara and Yuval Goldschmidt hit the air and the canvas at IPWA's Cinema City Wrestling show in Ramat Hasharon (photo credit: SAGI DAYAN)
Sammy Guevara and Yuval Goldschmidt hit the air and the canvas at IPWA's Cinema City Wrestling show in Ramat Hasharon
(photo credit: SAGI DAYAN)
The Israeli Pro Wrestling Association returns with its third show of 2019. No longer confined to the small venue of the Bearle Club in Lehavot Haviva, this time promoter Gery Roif showed what his talented roster could do on a larger stage – Cinema City Glilot.
And with a bigger stage comes bigger stars, with major wrestlers from American wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW) Darby Allin and “The Spanish God” Sammy Guevara both having been booked for the show, as well as Scottish independent wrestler Molly Spartan and the card’s main event – IPWA champion Matt Sydal versus “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn, a WWE hall of famer and 11 time tag team champion, and current head coach for AEW.
It was due to this stacked card and the venue’s more central location compared to the Bearle Club that attracted a much bigger audience than the last show, with the Cinema City lobby packed with fans wearing wrestling merchandise.
The eight match card started up with a five man match right away before transitioning into singles and tag team matches, and the talent were able to demonstrate the advantages of the improved acoustics of the new venue. The sound of every slam and high impact move carried throughout the room, making each move seem more brutal and every near-fall more intense.
It was the fifth match on the card that really had the crowd start popping though as Roif, wrestling as Rabbi Swissa, took on Darby Allin. This was Allin’s comeback match, having suffered a neck injury just weeks ago, but he hasn’t slowed down, hitting with intense spots and even taking it into the crowd before pinning Swissa for the win.
But the sixth match was able to overshadow even that, as Sammy Guevara took on the man who is arguably the greatest talent in Israel, 20-year-old Yuval Goldschmidt.
At the last show, Goldschmidt took Sydal to the limit in a title match, and the champion promised him another shot whenever he wants.  However, it would seem Billy Gunn got one first, with his long and storied career being something Sydal needs to match.
“In a way, I see myself as the challenger going into this," Sydal told The Jerusalem Post. "And so he has that over me."
Of course, this doesn’t mean Goldschmidt still needs to prove himself.
"I saw him wrestle six days ago at the IPWA show in Minnesota, he's amazing. Even better then when we last fought. He's still got that shot whether or not I win tonight. Of course, if Sammy beats him, then he has a shot too"
Guevara was fully aware of how good his opponent was too, as he confirmed to the Post before the match. And the more experienced AEW wrestler certainly didn’t hold anything back, using his incredible athleticism to keep up with his younger opponent, both unhindered by a low ceiling and able to make full use of their aerial abilities.
Ultimately, Guevara was able to come out on top, but Goldschmidt looked strong in defeat by proving once again that he was Israel’s brightest rising star, taking a far more experienced opponent to the limit,
"I don't care who's on this roster, I'll take on Matt Sydal, I'll take on Billy Gunn. Anyone on this joke of a roster,” Guevara said after the match. “But you [Goldschmidt]... You're not a joke. And you're only 20! [While I’m 26]… Thank you for the match. I'll take you on anytime."
The main event, however, blew everyone away.
Both Sydal and Billy Gunn got huge pops when they entered, with the champion entering first really selling the idea that he felt like the challenger in the match. Many in the crowd remembered Gunn when he was a stable of WWE programing in wrestling’s greatest boom period “The Attitude Era,” and others remember him when he came to Israel in the ‘90s.
"I was here 25 years ago, some of you may remember, and I had the most incredible time of my life,” Gunn said before the match.
The match between these two veterans started out slow, but it soon exploded into intense action that the ring simply couldn’t contain, with the two fighting throughout the venue. The audience largely gave up sitting still for it, standing and cheering throughout the match as they eagerly followed the two talents. Gunn proved that his career wasn’t a fluke, and he’s seemed just as talented as always, while Sydal once again proves that he’s one of the most underrated talents in the industry.
Ultimately, Sydal won the biggest pop of the night when he hit his signature top rope shooting star press, something the Bearle Club’s low ceilings kept him from doing.
While there were some slow moments, the card was very solid and no fan went home unsatisfied. With 2020 around the corner, Roif has set a huge bar for the IPWA, and if their track record is anything to go by, the next shows will be must-see.