Many moons ago I started reviewing World Tag Team League. It should not have been an epic task, yet it became one. However, today, I shall finish my quest with this review of the third and final day. A show in which the tournament itself takes centre stage as we have the last group matches and the final. It’s been one hell of a weekend, so it’s time to find out if wXw stuck the landing.
RINGKAMPF (WALTER and Timothy Thatcher) (2-1) defeated Okami (Daichi Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamitani) (1-2)
Okami were a new proposition for me at the start of this, but the moment they stepped into a wXw ring was the moment I started getting excited about this fight. RINGKAMPF have outstanding matches with everyone, so when you get a team that looks like a perfect stylistic mesh, you know there’s the opportunity for something special.
And the special was beef, as there was a lot of it in on display. They started slow, feeling each other out. Kamitani seemed determined to lift WALTER which backfired on him a few times before he was finally able to hoist the big man up for a slam. That was the sign for everyone to go.
What I’m about to say won’t be a surprise, but fuck me were they working stiff. These four men make the simple look devastating so you could buy a WALTER chop or a Hashimoto kick being enough to flip things on their head. It even extended into the finish as all it took was a WALTER Lariat to seal the victory.
All of which made it a shame that this was the opener rather than the main event. With ten more minutes and a bigger stage, you got the feeling that these teams would have descended into a maelstrom of loving violence. Instead, this came to a close just as it was getting exciting. There was more than enough to tell me I want to see it again, though.
Verdict: Three and Three Quarter Stars
CCK (Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham) (2-1) defeated The Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M) (1-2)
If the last match was a fantastic example of serious wrestling, this was an exhibition of how to make it fun. Which I am want to make clear, is not my way of seeing these four men are less talented. Where RINGKAMP and Okami work the basics to perfection, CCK and the Lucha Bros shoot for the spectacular.
And with Gresham and Fenix in the ring, the spectacular almost becomes normal. This has been the year that Gresham moved from the hardcore fan’s darling into someone who your average ROH watcher recognises as something special. The reason that change has occurred was on full display here. When he wasn’t flying off the top with Shooting Star Presses (he hit three), he was chopping it out with both Fenix and Penta. There’s nothing he can’t do.
It’s hard to capture this match in words because most of it was a blur of action. It wasn’t only Gresham pulling off the spectacular. We got Destroyers, Praying Mantis Bombs and enough sick fucking tag moves (a title CCK will have to share for once) to tickle the delight of even the most cynical of fans. It was a goddamn delight, and CCK sealed their place in the final.
Verdict: Four Stars
Wesna defeated LuFisto
Once again we have a switch up of style as it’s time for a hoss fight. Although LuFisto was too smart to deck it out with Wesna. She had no intention of spending an evening being beaten up.
That intellect (and a little bit of rule breaking) allowed LuFisto to work a ground and pound style. She was able to control the pace of the action, neutralising any advantages that Wesna had. All while keeping up a mocking conversation with the fans.
It was that conversation that might have eventually played into her downfall. Having hit a Cannonball, she gleefully claimed she was going to fly only for her lackadaisical climbing of the ropes to serve as a chance for Wesna to recover. She plucked LuFisto off the top and brought her down with a Death Valley Bomb for the win.
Few companies use foreign talent better than wXw. Even when they pick up some wins, it’s done so they can eventually put over a local wrestler. That’s precisely what happened here, so while I would have preferred to have seen these two women lay into each other, it was still a big win for Wesna.
Verdict: Three Stars
Jay FK (Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin) (2-1) defeated Aussie Open (Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher) (2-1)
Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin are in a difficult spot. Their heel turn has, in my opinion, been a success. They’ve established themselves as pests who everyone wants to punch in the face. It’s a change that came about by them taking shortcuts and generally being unlikable wee pricks. However, wXw is a company that is built on ringwork as well as storytelling, and now they need to adapt that pest heel nature and translate it into enthralling action.
Which is not an easy thing to do. Between them, Jay FK pulled out every page in the cheater’s guide, which is what their characters would do. However, that guide has been shared far and wide, so I’m bored with it. If I never saw a low blow and a roll-up win again, I would still have seen too many. If Jay FK is to be something special, they need to find a way to get past that feeling and deliver entertaining matches while staying true to their characters.
In the end, this felt cheap, particularly as an Aussie Open fan. They had an outstanding weekend, so bringing it to an end with a screwy finish out of nowhere in a short match was as far from a fitting conclusion as you could get.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Team SPLX (Jeff Cobb and Angelico) defeated Monster Consulting (Avalanche and Julian Nero)
At the start of this commentary explained that a Monster Consulting win leads to a three-way tie and the group winner being picked out of a hat. A Team SPLX win would send Jay FK to the final. You might as well have told everyone that Cobb and Angelico were getting their hands raised.
Look, Nero and Angelico are talented chaps. However, this was split into two parts. The parts that involved Jeff Cobb and Avalanche beating on each other and the bits that didn’t. I was only interested in the former.
Which isn’t to say the rest of it was terrible, it wasn’t. It was more good wrestling. Which sounds like a stupid complaint, but there is loads of good wrestling on these shows. I need more than that to get me excited. That’s what Cobb and Avalanche gave me. From the moment Cobb caught Avalanche coming off the top rope onwards, this came alive.
Unfortunately, the two bulls ramming into each other was not to last and shortly after Angelico rolled up Nero for the win. As I said, this was good, but on a weekend where the quality has been as high as it has been, that doesn’t always stand out.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
As they could no longer win the tournament, Monster Consulting had to relinquish their tag titles. A situation Avalanche was openly upset with. While nothing happened, it felt like they were foreshadowing a heel turn. We’ll have to wait and see if I imagined that or not.
Jurn Simmons and Alexander James defeated Emil Sitoci and Dirty Dragan
I don’t know how many ways I can say this, but Dirty Dragan does nothing for me. He’s stupidly over with the wXw faithful yet when he steps into the ring his weaknesses are there for all to see. If I had the emotional connection that others do, I suspect I’d be able to look past it. Unfortunately, I don’t.
Thankfully, he had Emil Sitoci in his corner to provide a few minutes of brilliance. Sitoci is so smooth he almost slides around the ring, and it’s a pleasure to watch him work. If I had my way, Dragan would not be part of his future.
Still, my feelings aside, this worked for the fans in attendance. Every Dragan hope spot or near fall had them roaring in delight while Simmons and James became the ultimate villains when they dared stand in his way. I’ve never claimed to be objective about this shit, but if I were to be so, I’d have to admit he’s doing something right.
Yet, if Dragan is to keep the promise he made the day before, this will be his last appearance in wXw. It looked like he had got the victory, only for Alexander James to place Simmons’ foot on the rope. When the match was restarted Jurn came flying across the ring with a Consigliere (he may no longer call it that) and Dragan was out.
They kept this short, so it never offended and as mentioned, the fans had a lovely time. Still, it wasn’t for me.
Verdict: Two Stars
Lucky Kid defeated Tarkan Aslan
Talking of people who have yet to win me over, Tarkan Aslan and his ridiculously high trouser line have failed to make me care about them. I love Lucky Kid, though, so if anyone was going to sell me on him, it was Lucky.
Sadly, Lucky’s talent did not expand that far. These two worked this as a grudge match. Unfortunately, it was the kind of grudge match where the heel hits a move, spends a minute gurning at the fans and then does something else. It was slow, plodding and so dull.
And dull is something a Lucky Kid match should never be. He’s a wrestling firecracker and when you manage to negate that you have a problem. The only upside was that Lucky picked up the victory despite Marius Al-Ani’s best attempts to interfere (someone needs to teach him how to hit people with that belt and make it look like it hurts). Pete Bouncer and Ivan Kiev would even up those odds which allowed Lucky to recover and get the win with a Crossface.
I’m still happy to be told that Tarkan Aslan is worthy of my time, but this wasn’t the match to convince me. Hopefully, this means Lucky can move onto bigger and better things.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
Jay FK (Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin) defeated CCK (Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham) to win World Tag Team League and the wXw Tag Team Titles
Before the bell could ring Jay FK attacked, and everyone vanished into the crowd. If you want to read me moaning about crowd brawling in a Tag League go back to December of last year and read one of my Suzuki-gun reviews. Fuck, I’ve just realised we’re going to get another month of that, aren’t we?
Thankfully, rather than Iizuka, this match had Jonathan Gresham. He brought things to life with a Moonsault off the ramp before proceedings finally returned to the ring. He might have not come home with a shiny new title belt, but he was the tournament MVP. Every minute he spent in the ring over this weekend was electric, and the final was no different. If you are somehow yet to be convinced by him, please seek these matches out and accept you were wrong.
What makes Gresham truly special, is that he makes everyone else better. I like Chris Brookes, but the matches he had over this weekend were some of the best I’ve seen from him recently while the Jay FK I was calling for against Aussie Open was the one we got here. They were still cheating, but Gresh’s performance brought the fire out of them, and we got a reminder that these boys can go.
It nearly came to an ugly end. A ref bump, followed by a low blow to Brookes and a chair shot to Gresham would only get a two as the crowd exploded when Gresham kick out. Sadly, it was to be a reprieve rather than a save. Although, we at least got a fantastic Gresh vs Skillet performance to close us out. Time after time, Jay FK would kick him in the face or drop him on his head, and he just kept kicking out, refusing to die. Sadly, no-one can live forever, and enough was eventually enough.
This was far from a perfect final. The opening was boring while I would have liked to see Jay FK get the shenanigan free win. However, the performance of Jonathan Gresham was spectacular, and when Skillet and Kaspin were in there with him, they were raised up to his level. For that alone, it’s well worth a watch.
Verdict: Four Stars
This might be the weakest night of the tournament, which considering it was still pretty good, is more a compliment to the quality of the weekend than an insult to day three. It’s no secret that wXw is one of my favourite promotions right now and this is why. Get it watched.
Watch World Tag Team League: https://www.wxwnow.com/en
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