AKA: The South Pacific Power Couple: Come to England, Do Wrestling
Genre: Wrestling Documentary
Year Released: 2017
Distributor: Beyond Gorilla
Running Time: 17 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Eddie Dennis: A 5 Year Old’s Dream, Road Back to Malice, Smack Em Up
-South Pacific Power Couple is streaming on YouTube.
-Special thanks to TK Cooper for this review. Feel free to check out his Facebook page, his merch as a singles wrestler, with the South Pacific Power Couple, or with his current tag team/faction Escaping the Midcard as well as their YouTube Channel of the same name.
-This review was written and posted weeks prior to the #SpeakingOut allegations against several wrestlers and promoters. Unfortunately, two of the names among the accused (Travis Banks and Matt Riddle) made brief cameos in this film. I edited the review and replaced TK Cooper’s match in Battle Pro with his match against Hari Singh in Wrestling Resurgence in protest due to Battle Pro owner Darrell Allen being accused of sexual assault. I hope those wrongdoers get punished. Also, thank you TK for condemning the behaviors of those accused especially with Travis Banks.
-TK Cooper has been wrestling since 2011. Some of his accolades including being a former Melbourne City Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, EWA Tag Team Champion with Chuck Mambo as Escaping the Midcard, and he was the inaugural Breed Pro Champion. The last championship was from a federation based in Sheffield, England and Cooper would also be the first New Zealander as well as the first wrestler of Samoan descent to win in that company.
-Dahlia Black was a former WrestleForce Women’s Champion. Her background was actually in theatre and dancing as opposed to wrestling. She has also wrestled for companies such as RevPro, IPW: UK, Riptide, and Pro Wrestling Eve to name a few
-This documentary is from Beyond Gorilla who are also responsible for Charlie Peterson: Britain’s Toughest Brawler and Eddie Dennis: A 5 Year Old’s Dream.
-The South Pacific Power Couple’s entrance music is “Keep It 100” by Canadian DJ Grandtheft and Keys N Crates who are a hip hop trio from that same country. Cooper also uses that song for his singles matches. Besides that, his theme with Escaping the Midcard is Edwin Starr’s cover of “War”. Yes, the “What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” song that ironically plays in action movies like Rush Hour or Small Soldiers.
-Culture Bonus/Sports Fan Bonus: Some of Cooper and Black’s ring gear is in black and features a feather with their team name there. Any rugby fan out there might recognize the design scheme as a reference to the New Zealand All Blacks team.
-Some cameos involve Candy Floss, Session Moth Martina, and “Battle Tested” Rob Lynch.
Here we go again. I have given in to writing yet another wrestling documentary review. Some of you are rolling your eyes as my somewhat recent interest in the indie BritWres scene has been showing in different parts. Yes, this still involves the UK at large with this review. Unlike Wales with the last two times I covered pro wrestling on Iridium Eye with Swansea’s Eddie Dennis in A 5 Year Old’s Dream or Brynmawr’s Flash Morgan Webster with Road Back to Malice, we’re going to go too a country associated with the commonwealth: New Zealand. This Oceanian nation has a few famous things and people about it, but wrestling isn’t the first thing people think of when it comes to Australia’s next door neighbor. If I were to ask some random person about New Zealand, they might say that Lord of the Rings was filmed there, or they might know some musicians from there such as Lorde, Flight of the Conchords, Kimbra (even though most people only know her for “Somebody that I Used to Know” with Gotye), or for those who listen to Christian rock music might know Phil Joel as a solo artist or playing bass in the Newsboys. Despite how New Zealand hasn’t been seen as much, there have been some Kiwis doing their best to make waves in wrestling even though they didn’t get a big break until heading over to Good Ol’ Blighty.
Seems like there needed to be a change coming from the Southern Hemisphere.
South Pacific Power Couple involves a wrestling couple from Auckland, New Zealand. They are “The Headbutt Messiah” TK Cooper (real name: Tasman Bartlett-Masina) and Dahlia Black (real name: Olivia Shaw). Both of them have been starting out in the small New Zealand indie scene before they decide to make the jump to the UK to wrestle full time. Both of them form the faction/intergender tag team where the documentary gets their name from. As part of the gimmick, Cooper and Black do some intense PDA in their entrance or at different times in their matches. The South Pacific Power Couple manages to get booked in different feds, but most famously at Progress Wrestling where they got their big break in the business. Both of them do their best at wrestling and adjusting to living in the already growing indie BritWres scene, but they also have concerns with being thousands of miles away from home as well as dealing with visa issues. How will these Kiwi grapplers make it in the wrestling world?
I have heard about this particular documentary in passing after watching the Eddie Dennis one in late 2018, but I found more reason to watch it after binge watching ETM videos especially after the social isolation match between TK Cooper and Chuck Mambo which some of you may have seen in my Top 7 Non-Actors Who Should Act list. If you haven’t, then check it out again here.
Achievement Unlocked: TK Cooper has appeared in more reviews than any other wrestler on Iridium Eye!
Unlike A 5 Year Old’s Dream and Road Back to Malice, you actually hear Cooper talk in this one. It was fascinating getting the insight from him and Dahlia Black where they talk about their journey to living out their dreams as well as mentioning their struggles achieving these goals. It made everything more relatable and grounded. I’m sure most other people would act all haughty about doing something as wrestling and the only time it comes out is in the SPPC footage where they’re in character. That vulnerability was a welcome aspect in this documentary. Cooper does have a unique move set and look with him sporting dungaree overalls as ring gear or him pulling off some super athletic moves no one expect a powerhouse wrestler to pull off (I’ve seen his work in Riptide, EWA, and Wrestling Resurgence for example. He’s very impressive in the ring). Black has a very unique background in being in dancing and musical theater. That may come off as unrelated, but it actually helped with her character work, promos, and acting skills. Whoever said that wrestlers don’t have cultured backgrounds? Here’s an example of one of her promos where you can see some of it shine.
Besides that, the production work was certainly competent. There are good interview shots, a great mixture of match footage, and typography with some of the quotes or the population statistics of the UK compared to New Zealand. I also liked the scene of the SPPC watching some of their Progress matches on a projector. The camera work in that scene was spot on and it adds a sense of nostalgia with their dialogue. There were some moments that were better in hindsight especially given the visa situations. Remember the fun facts about Cooper’s championships and accomplishments? Most of those title reigns happened long after this documentary was filmed. I guess it was kind of like both documentaries with Eddie Dennis and Flash Morgan Webster after they won significant championships after they were filmed in that regard. However, TK Cooper is still an indie wrestler unlike those aforementioned Welshmen getting hired by Vince McMahon even if it’s for NXT UK. That aspect could cause some people to respect the Headbutt Messiah even more for still having that indie spirit making a living with wrestling.
The South Pacific Power Couple documentary does miss a few rock paper scissors kicks if I were to reference one of Cooper’s moves. I know Progress was the federation where Cooper and Black got more exposure than they ever had back in New Zealand, but the bias becomes very blatant with most of the match footage as well as Dahlia wearing a Progress shirt for most of the film. I know they’ve wrestled for other companies during their time in England, but one could assume it was just that London-based fed. I did think their story was fascinating with making the move, but I think some aspects could’ve been asked like how they got into wrestling more often or some of their favorite wrestlers to work with. While there were aspects that were more awesome in hindsight such as TK Cooper winning titles in the indies after the fact, Dahlia Black’s story is far different now. She retired from in-ring competition long after this was filmed. She was involved in doing commentary for Progress (also making her the first female commentator in that company), but she also did works in other fields such as studying to do forensic autopsies and making candles. I’m going to resist making a joke about Elizabeth Short when it comes to the real life Olivia Shaw going into the autopsy field (her wrestling name REALLY doesn’t help), but I hope she succeeds with that and her candle-making business.
This was a fine entry into BritWres documentaries. The South Pacific Power Couple were fun to watch and it was fascinating hearing their stories as well as finding out about their ideologies on wrestling. The production was certainly worthy and there was a healthy mix of interview time and wrestling footage. However, there were some biased aspects as well as other things that will be looked at differently throughout the scope of history. I do hope that TK Cooper and Dahlia Black excel in their work as well as putting New Zealand on the map in the wrestling scene. I know the two of them will keep repping the South Pacific as well as keeping it one hundred in whatever they do.
I hope these Kiwis succeed and get more of the gold.
BONUS: Here’s one of TK Cooper’s matches, if you fancy.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you like TK Cooper and/or Dahlia Black’s work.
Add 1 point if you’re a fan of the BritWres or New Zealand scene.
Subtract 1-3 points if you’re not a fan of wrestling.
-Very good camera work and production
-Insightful interviews with TK Cooper and Dahlia Black
-Some parts are greater in hindsight after they return to the UK
-Heavy bias towards Progress Wrestling
-Missing questions and interview topic opportunities
-Dahlia Black retiring makes some of this documentary hampered in hindsight
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Warning: South Pacific Power Couple would probably get a PG-13 if this were rated. TK Cooper and Dahlia Black really go overboard with kissing and touching each other as part of their gimmick as an over-the-top parody of certain boyfriends and girlfriends who worship #BaeGoals and #CouplesGoals (You might know at least one such couple in real life). There’s certainly violence which is to be expected, but in Cooper’s heel SPPC gimmick, he admits that there’s social commentary when he hits women in character for intergender matches to make fans wonder if they have misogynistic elements about themselves. Cooper also botches a Phoenix Splash which is shown briefly and got injured. Dahlia Black does drop an F-bomb on camera, so that would prevent the youngest viewers from seeing it.
All photos and videos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. South Pacific Power Couple is property of Beyond Gorilla. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Beyond Gorilla.