World Tag Team League got started with one of the better cards wXw have put together this year. Not only did they serve up the tournament matches, but they backed them up with Toni Storm vs Meiko Satomura, a 4-way dance to determine the number one contender for the Shotgun Title and the latest battle between David Starr and Jurn Simmons as they both put their hair on the line. There’s a lot of fun to be had there.
Toni Storm defeated Meiko Satomura
wXw were hosting Femmes Fatales the next day (I’ll be reviewing that next), so had a shitload of fantastic talent in town. It’s a bit of a shame that only see these two got their faces on this card, but it’s certainly not a bad choice. They are arguably the hottest female wrestlers on the planet as they’re fresh off competing in the Mae Young Classic.
Unsurprisingly, this was very good. I’ve only become aware of Meiko this year, and in that time I’ve never seen her deliver below that level. They started technically, grappling for control before upping the aggression as the fight went on. By the end, they were working a ferocious pace with both women pulling out all their tricks.
The problem was that it then just ended which is a problem with a lot of Storm’s matches in wXw. To be fair, they did have Satomura kick out of a Strong Zero which I hoped was going to serve as the catalyst for an explosive finishing stretch. Instead, Toni ducked a couple of kicks and hit a second for the win.
With five more minutes, this could have been special. It’s never fair to judge a match on what could have been, but sometimes you can’t help it.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix) (1-0) defeated Okami (Hideyoshi Kamitani and Daichi Hashimoto) (0-1)
Penta spotted Kamitani across the ring and instantly wanted a piece of that beefy boy. That set up what might have been a perfect thirty seconds. Everything broke down immediately as these four started throwing Superkicks and Lariats at each other. It was beautiful.
It was also a perfect taster of what this was to become. Kamitani and Hashimoto aren’t afraid to work stiff which Penta and Fenix were more than happy to go along with. Penta, in particular, was having all sorts of fun, trading stiff slaps with the two Japanese lads. Then we got the added benefit of Rey Fenix doing Rey Fenix stuff which always makes me gasp.
A combo Top Rope Double Stomp/Fear Factor would be enough to get the win although Fenix made sure of it by diving into the fourth row to take out Kamitani. This was as good a tag team sprint as you will see, although I still wish we could have got another ten minutes.
Verdict: Four Stars
Monster Consulting (Avalanche and Julian Nero) (1-0) defeated Jay FK (Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin) (0-1)
Francis Kaspin has an envelope. We aren’t sure what is inside it, and as Monster Consulting threw them around the ring, I can’t even imagine Jay FK cared. They probably just wanted out of there.
The problem is that Kaspin and Skillet are smart. When Jay distracted Avalanche, Francis was ready, raking his eyes and giving the annoying bugs their opening. Those two are brilliantly detestable, and they’ve adapted to their heel turn like they were born for it. Avalanche’s power became irrelevant as they took him off his feet. Even when he managed to make the tag to Julian Nero, they were ready, and the hot comeback was cut off before it got too spicy.
Sadly, being smart isn’t always enough. Sometimes, brute strength wins. Jay FK had too many schemes for their own good as they tried to distract the ref to set-up a belt shot. However, when Kaspin went charging in Avalanche was ready, up he went and down he came shortly after. A Boulder Dash was enough to see the champions get off to the perfect start.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Julian Pace defeated Emil Sitoci, Lucky Kid and Fred Yehi to become Number One Contender to the Shotgun Title
Marius Al-Ani came out before we got started and cut an excitable promo. No idea what he said, but the four guys in the ring ended up dumping him out of it.
Once we got past that this was a clusterfuck in the entertaining sense of the word. Four guys dancing from one move to another with little in the way of psychology or selling, but with plenty of cool shit. Kid, Sitoci and Pace are made for this environment while Yehi was more than capable of keeping up with them.
Annoyingly, it turned out they didn’t hit Al-Ani hard enough. With Lucky Kid looking like the likely winner Marius drove the belt into his back (although it looked awful and it’s hard to buy that shot causing any damage) which combined with a Sitoci elbow drop prevented him lifting Pace for a Powerbomb. Julian then took advantage and hit a Code Red for the win.
I wrote in my Inner Circle review that I’d like to see Julian Pace given a chance to impress and apparently wXw agreed. This was fun while having all the flaws that multi-man matches suffer from.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
CCK (Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham) (1-0) defeated RINGKAMPF (WALTER and Tim Thatcher) (0-1)
Chris Brookes joined in on some of the Beautiful Tim worship pre-match. Thatcher has been teaming with Brookes in Progress, so they’re ‘buddies’ now. Although it might be a one-sided relationship. This is also a reunion for Brookes and Gresham who used to wrestle together as CCK in wXw. Although, they have semi-regularly teamed since then.
While I think everyone is on the Jonathan Gresham train, this is another match that should sway those who are late to the party. His interactions with RINGKAMPF were great. Despite being dwarfed by his opponents, Gresh finds a realistic way to take them down to his level and open them up to attack. Even having the guts to enrage WALTER while he was stood on the apron, showing that he was desperate to prove himself the equal of the big man.
RINGKAMPF, meanwhile, are a joy to watch. They’re the perfect combination of brains and brawn. Tim outwrestles his opponents then Big WALT charges in and rips their heads off. Similarly, Brookes and Gresham are ideal foes, selling their asses off and grasping at inventive ways to survive.
The final phase was excellent. All four men were sliding in and out as they put their foot down. Unlike the previous match, they never lost the story they’d set up. It was still about Brookes and Gresham trying to cut the bigger men down to size and Gresh’s desperation to prove himself against WALTER. In fact, he’d eventually get him over for a German, a callback to a previous occasion where he’d done the same. That left the path clear to lock in an Octopus on Thatcher and had no choice except to tap. CCK won an outstanding bout.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Aussie Open (Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher) (1-0) defeated Team SPLX (Jeff Cobb and Angelico) (0-1)
The early parts of this saw Angelico and Fletcher do the technical thing before Davis and Cobb did the hoss thing. Something for everyone. It was all a bit slow, though, as if both teams were waiting for the right moment to explode.
That came when Cobb and Davis decided to ditch the stereotypes and started pulling out some Lucha Libre. The sign for everything to truly take off was human brick shithouse Jeff Cobb finishing the sequence with a Hurricanrana into a kip-up.
What followed was a very good match which struggled to follow RINGKAMPF vs CCK. Everyone in that ring was doing what you’d expect of them, it just didn’t get the blood pumping the same way. The same passion wasn’t coming from the crowd, and it was hard not to miss it.
Don’t get me wrong, everything they did was great. I would even go as far as saying it wasn’t any of the wrestler’s faults that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have. It was just a struggle to attach myself to it emotionally. Instead of something incredible, it was merely a great wrestling match. Which most definitely isn’t an insult.
Verdict: Four Stars
David Starr defeated Julian Simmons in a Hair vs Hair match
I was a bit down on Starr and Simmons’ Last Man Standing match. However, I accept that part of that is a taste thing. I’m burned out on plunder, and it takes something special for me to care. You can probably put that down to spending too much time watching ICW a few years ago. It meant I went into this expecting to be left similarly cold.
Which I was. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. There’s no denying that these men gave everything to it. Starr, in particular, bumped like a madman doing everything from letting Simmons wax his chest to leaping off a balcony. I can only imagine he is still feeling some of the aftermath of this bout over a week later. Not that Simmons took the night off, both of them took a beating.
The problem was that it felt like a series of set pieces rather than a fight. Two guys wandering around an arena going from pre-planned spot to pre-planned spot. At no point did I actually buy that this was a blood feud coming to an end. They couldn’t convince me that they hated each other, even as they both bled all over the ring and did horrible things.
And you could argue that this just isn’t my type of wrestling. To a certain extent, you’d be right. Except, I’ve been watching some of Masashi Takeda’s deathmatches recently, and I love them. They flow like wrestling matches, blending the violence into the story. It’s perhaps unfair to compare Simmons and Starr to a man who many would proclaim the best wrestler of this style on the planet, but having watched them both, it’s hard not to.
You cannot fault David Starr and Jurn Simmons’ effort. In so many ways, this was an incredible fight that saw them kill each other for my entertainment. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, and I can’t pretend that’s not the case just because I respect the damage they did to their bodies. It’s possible to respect them, even as I struggle to love them.
Verdict: Three Stars
In some ways, this wXw show slipped into PWG territory. The quality was so high throughout that it became hard to watch. I’ve given a four-star review of a match that reads quite negatively because it’s not as good as the four and a half star review I gave a few minutes before. This was a fantastic start to World Tag Team League, and I suspect that some of the stuff that didn’t click for me, will for others. Don’t miss it.