Night two and, well, we’re far enough away from the night that we all know what’s going down. There’s a massive return in our future, and we should probably get on with it. Let’s dish out some stars.
RISE (Da Mack and Ivan Kiev) defeated Monster Consulting (Avalanche and Julian Nero), Jay FK (Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin) and Mark Haskins and Matt Sydal to become Number One Contenders for the wXw World Tag Titles
Mark Haskins and Matt Sydal are a weird team. I can’t imagine those two hanging out.
Anyway, this features a bunch of the losers from night one as they get a chance to make up for their early exit from the competition by going after a tag title shot. It’s also fair to say that Monster Consulting are over with the wXw faithful.
With eight men around the ring, this quickly turned into a sprint. The key was they gave everyone a second to impress. Monster Consulting were dominant when they were in while Jay FK showed off some slick double team moves. Haskins and Sydal didn’t quite have the cohesion of those teams, but they both shone individually with Haskins in particular showing off some impressive submissions.
Then there was RISE, who had Da Mack make up for his eight-second loss to Riddle by picking up the win over Sydal. They bided their time, only coming in when the odds were in the favour, and eventually picking up a decisive victory. They looked like the smartest men in the room and were the right choice for the victors.
It wasn’t a perfect match. There were a few moments where someone looked a bit lost, either because they weren’t sure what they were supposed to be doing next or because someone hadn’t quite hit their mark. Despite that, it was still a lot of fun and a perfect start to the show.
Verdict: Three Stars
Keith Lee defeated Chris Brookes
Starting out, Brookes seemed a bit unsure how to attack Keith Lee. He got a sleeper on, wrapping his legs around a standing Lee, but the big man was able to stroll over to the ropes. Unburdened by Brookes’ tall yet slender frame. He then tried chopping him and, well, you can probably guess how that went over.
With all that failing the Calamari Catch King went back to the classic take down a big man style. Dance around him and build up some speed. It worked for a few seconds, right until Lee plucked him out of the air off a dive and powerbombed him on to the apron.
That set up the story of the bout. In a physical contest, Brookes stood no chance and Lee was able to toss him around with ease. He had a few moments where he could cause some damage, even getting close to locking in the Octopus Stretch at one point. Sadly, it wasn’t to last. Lee eventually managed to toss him up in the air for a devastating Spirit Bomb (Brookes bounced at least a foot in the air) and seal the win.
An enjoyable monster performance from Lee with Brookes bumping around for the big man and making him look like a star. While it needed a bit more back and forth to be classic, it was still good.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Timothy Thatcher defeated Lucky Kid
Calling this a clash of styles doesn’t do it justice. Thatcher’s controlled intensity couldn’t be further away from Lucky Kid’s insanity.
It was a clash that seemed to suggest a comfortable Thatcher win. Kid was the scrappy underdog who Thatcher should have been leaving as a smear on the mat. He’s very good at throwing people around, and every time he got his hands on Kid, that’s what he did.
However, there’s a flicker of intelligence in Lucky Kid’s unhinged nature. Thatcher wrestles a very particular style while Kid is erratic and hard to predict. It was that which gave him a chance. He was able to catch Big Tim off-guard, bouncing around and unsettling the RINGKAMPF man. He picked up multiple close falls with everything from an inside cradle to a Standing Shiranui. The man who shouldn’t have been coming close to getting a win was in danger of sneaking away with one.
Sadly for Lucky Kid, all these near falls just served to piss Old Timothy off. Lucky Kid began to get cocky, he started slapping Thatcher and mocking him. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that was a bad idea. It fired Tim Thatcher up, and he came roaring back with a series of snug shots. Lucky tried to hold on, but in the end, the veteran had too much for him. The underdog story was over.
Not that it mattered. Lucky Kid didn’t need to win. Surviving would have been enough. Surviving and nearly winning? That was a victory in its own way. If Lucky Kid moves on to be a star, this weekend will be seen as the moment it began. The fan reaction combined with a big performance strikes me as the start of something. Fingers crossed I’m right.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
David Starr defeated Travis Banks
These two were on a mission to see how much they could fit into the short time they had. According to Cagematch, this went just over six minutes, and yet it felt twice as long. They packed more into those minutes than a lot of wrestlers could in twice that time.
And most of it looked fucking sore. These men have different styles that at the same time are very similar. Travis Banks relies on razor-sharp strikes, lashing out with kicks and flying from the ropes to build momentum.
Starr meanwhile, is brute force. That Han Stansen lariat being the perfect example. While Banks wants to overwhelm you with strike after strike, Starr is looking for that big blow. The one that will knock you out for good.
Which is what he got. Davey Wrestling seemed to be on the ropes, clasping his neck after having his head whipped around by a series of kicks. Then he spotted his chance, connecting with a lariat as Banks came flying off the turnbuckle. A second Han Stansen was enough to make sure the Kiwi Buzzsaw’s tournament was over.
This was a hell of a lot of fun. A packed sprint that had the crowd bouncing from excitement.
Verdict: Four Stars
Absolute Andy defeated Matt Riddle
Riddle looked to repeat his one move victory from night one, catching Andy with a huge knee. However, in a reversal of fortunes from Andy’s previous match, his foot was now under the rope, and this time, the referee noticed it.
The taking away of his quick victory seemed to knock Riddle off his stride. He quickly lost control and was falling victim to Andy’s bruiser stylings. These two made an interesting contrast. Riddle is all abs and technique while Andy looks like he’d smash a beer glass over your head if it meant he got the win.
It was that attitude that would ultimately play into the victory. After surviving Andy’s initial assault, Riddle began to assert himself on the action. Which led to desperate times for the man who is Absolute. As Riddle went up top, he shoved the ref into the ropes, unseating him. He then managed to distract the ref for long enough for him to hit a low blow followed by an Avalanche F5 for the three.
They’re telling an interesting story with Andy. He’s survived his matches rather than dominating them. Reaching into his bag of tricks to overcome younger opponents who seemed to have him beat. Ir’s old-school heel work which is not hurting the quality of his output. Let’s hope he can keep it up.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Alexander James defeated Jonah Rock
A battle of technical skill vs power. James quickly zeroed in on Jonah’s arm. Kicking it, wrenching on it and doing every horrible thing that came to his mind. He was setting up for the Code Of Arms and making sure that when Jonah tried to hoist him into the air, he was going to have to do it by fighting through the pain.
However, Rock is a big boulder to chip down and even with one arm, he was able to do damage. The man appears to be one massive muscle, which helps if you want to assert yourself. Yet, he made a mistake. Much like in his fight against Thatcher, he couldn’t resist going to the top rope, this time flying off with a moonsault.
And, once again, there was no opponent when he came down. Crashing on to the canvas he was left exposed. James struck, wrapping him in a flash pin (where he was sure to hook the arm he’d been working on) and getting the three.
No-one is going to remember it as a classic, but this was a big win for Alexander James, and we got to see a different version of Jonah Rock. He was on the back foot, selling for a lot of the match and grabbing his opportunities when he could. It’s a role a lot of big men struggle in, but Rock proved he was more than capable of playing it.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Bobby Gunns defeated Speedball Mike Bailey to retain the wXw Shotgun Title
You’d have been forgiven for thinking that these two had somewhere better to be. There was no pissing around at the start. Gunns nearly locked on an Armbar and Bailey went for the Ultimate Weapon not long after.
That wasn’t a match that Gunns wanted to be involved in, though. Trying to sprint with Speedball is asking for trouble. When his initial flurry didn’t get results, he changed it up. Going to work stretching Bailey and doing some pretty sick things to his pinky. Scurll needs to retire his finger breaking spot because Gunns made it obsolete. Bailey finger got taped to his wrist and twisted in ways that fingers shouldn’t bend. I’m assuming this is an Alexa Bliss situation where Speedball is able to do some freaky shit with his joints, but it left me a cringing mess.
It was kind of hard to get past that moment as it’s now scared into my brain forever. However, Bailey was able to fight back throwing out those kick for all he was worth and popping his own finger back into place. It was a babyface performance that made a mockery of everyone in that arena chanting Gunns’ name.
Sadly, Bobby is popular for a reason. That lad is good, and he had inflicted enough damage that he was able to transition into an Armbar after Bailey hit the standing Spanish Fly he’d been doing all weekend. Gunns is someone who I had no knowledge of when I started watching wXw, and with every show, he impresses me that little bit more. Even as the crowd chanted his name, Bobby was a cocky evil bastard, taking delight in torturing poor Speedball. Now, I’m off to be sick.
Verdict: Four Stars
Toni Storm defeated Melanie Grey to retain the wXw Women’s Title
wXw’s women division has been building to Storm vs Grey for months. Toni has established one hell of a resume with (at my count) four belts in her current collection. Grey, meanwhile, has been at the centre of the title’s story since its inception. Slowly coming unhinged as she believes wXw are working to keep it away from her.
And it was that intensity which fuelled Melanie. It didn’t matter what Storm did, Grey kept coming back for more. Desperate to get her hands on the title she thinks is her. She even kicked out of a Strong Zero – a move that wXw have put over strong – before hitting one of her own on Toni.
It meant the match quickly spiralled into war. Going from a standing start to a sprint where neither woman seemed willing to be the one to stay down. In the end, they were just hammering on each other, a battle to see who would flinch first.
The answer was Melanie Grey who after a Finlay Roll headed to the top-rope. However, after the beating she’d taken, the trip took too long. Storm managed to get back on her feet and follow her up there. An Avalanche German followed by another Strong Zero put Grey to sleep.
I’m sticking with my opinion that wXw is holding back a bit on their woman’s division. They put them in the semi-main spot on perhaps their biggest show, but the match still went a shade under ten minutes. Both women did fantastically, but if this belt is to ever feel truly special, then it needs to be given the time and effort that the big one is.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Ilja Dragunov defeated John ‘Bad Bones’ Klinger and WALTER to win the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship
wXw is doing a fantastic job of making these title bouts feel important. Both men got a pre-match promo where they explained their wrestling philosophies straight into the camera. Those philosophies extended into the contrast in their entrances. WALTER, The Ring General, with his stately march down the ramp. Whereas Bad Bones was joined by a band, presumably playing his entrance theme live. It’s just a shame that the VOD requires them to overdub everything with the same track, taking away from some of that power.
Which is why I’m going to suggest you watch the video all the way up at the top of the page, for WALTER still had a stipulation to announce. In a shocking twist, he declared this a three-way dance and with it the return of Ilja Dragunov. If you’re watching on the VOD the power of that moment is lost as they switch to the overdub. In the video above you can hear the crowd come unglued to the sound of his music. It’s a goosebumps moment.
I’m then going to point you in the direction of another video, although only if, like me, you’re new to wXw and don’t have much experience with Dragunov. wXw did a documentary series on him before his title shot in December (which was the last time he was around), and it’s a perfect introduction to the man.
Anyway, we haven’t even made it past the entrances. Let’s talk about the match itself. The truth is, I’m not the best person to review this one. It’s the culmination of a year-long journey that I didn’t take. However, I will do my best because it would be weird not to bother.
Things kicked off with RISE trying to interfere. WALTER and Dragunov quickly dispatched the lot of them and were left standing in the ring. RINGKAMPF and Monster Consulting then came down to bundle them to the back. We were heading into shenanigan free territory.
We were also heading into a masterful example of how to construct a triple threat. Each man brought their own unique element to the fore. You had The Ring General, dominating everyone who stood in his way with that formidable strength. It didn’t take long until he’d chopped Dragunov’s chest back into the state that he’d left it in at last year’s 16 Carat final.
Then there was Dragunov himself, a man who inspires devotion with the smallest of actions. It didn’t matter if it was my first time watching him, I was hooked. There is charisma pouring out of that man as he wrestles with a recklessness that is scary. The crowd weren’t just hot because of the surprise return. They were hot because they love him.
Finally, we have Bad Bones, the man who might be the easiest to forget, yet, he was also the key to everything that happened. WALTER and Dragunov are the fan favourites, and while it was clear everyone was Unbeseiger that night, they would probably have accepted a WALTER win. What no-one wanted was the RISE leader to escape with his belt. However, there’s a reason he had that title in the first place. Klinger is a canny character who threatened to play spoiler on more than one occasion. The fear his near falls inspired was almost as thrilling as the cheers Dragunov’s did.
On top of all that, you have to respect three men who are willing to destroy themselves in the way these guys did. I’ve mentioned Dragunov’s chest already, but it’s worth talking about again. WALTER seemed determined to flay the poor bastard with just the flat of his hand. It made what Bad Bones went through look small, even as the redness shone through his tattoos. It wasn’t only chops being served for dinner, though. This was a gruelling fight with people being dropped on their head all over the place. No-one was coming out of it feeling healthy.
The final few minutes were outstanding wrestling. Momentum spun from wrestler to wrestler, with each one taking their turn to apparently have it in the bag. The physicality was breathtaking with each man doing more than enough to win a million titles. It would come to an end when Dragunov escaped the Gojira Clutch and threw himself across the ring with a Torpedo Moskau sending Walter tumbling to the outside. He followed up with another one to Klinger, only for Bad Bones to survive with a kick-out at the last possible moment. It was a reprieve rather than a save, however. For a few seconds, later Dragunov hoisted the champ up for a Burning Hammer. Another Torpedo Moskau sealed the victory.
Wow, that was draining. It wasn’t perfect, three-ways rarely are. There are too many moving parts and there is always going to be an element of one man in one man out. Yet, if you are going to do a three-way, that is how you do it, and any problems were quickly overridden by the pure passion of the crowd. It made me sad that I hadn’t walked this journey with them. If I loved it without the backstory, imagine how good it would be with it intact?
Verdict: Four And Three Quarter Stars
An outstanding show from wXw. There wasn’t a dud match on the card and in the case of the main event and Thatcher vs Lucky Kid it was some genuinely breathtaking wrestling. I’d already fallen for wXw’s charms and two-thirds of the way through 16 Carat weekend it’s fair to say I’ll never be going back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch Day Three and then go back and cram as much Dragunov into my eyes as possible.
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