Night two of wXw appreciating their fans once again sees Your Da defending his belt in the main event. This time, he’s up against the man he took it from, Ilja Dragunov. Will he hold on to it? Or is Ma going to have to start shopping around again because the bonuses have dried up? I guess we should go find out. (Apologies for how late this review is, I wrote half and then got distracted…)
wXw recently took a weekend to appreciate their fans, isn’t that delightfully pleasant of them? They’re doing so by having our da fight our kinky socialist uncle which I’m totally down for. Although not in a weird way. Fuck, did I make it weird?
I’m struggling to come up with family connections for the rest of the card, so I’ll leave it there. Let’s watch some wrestling.
It’s happened a bit later on Ramblings About (blame the G1 and the Edinburgh Festival), but wXw is back! After a summer break, everyone’s favourite Germans return with Shortcut to the Top which is their version of the Royal Rumble. We’ve also got Absolute Andy cashing in his 16 Carat title shot against Ilja Dragunov and Marius Al-Ani challenging Bobby Gunns for the Shotgun belt. Time to find out whether they’ve lost a step over the summer.
Night Two of Strong Style Evolved UK was when I rocked into town. So, expect this review to be a bit different. I’ll be talking more about the experience of being there rather than the intricacies of what was happening in the ring because quite frankly I wasn’t taking notes. It was one hell of a show, and I apologise in advance if I get over excited.
New Japan finally got their asses over to the UK for a couple of shows in conjunction with Rev Pro. Taking place over two nights (one in Milton Keynes and one in Manchester), they brought a host of big stars and booked some damn impressive matches. While I went to the second night, I missed out on the first. Thankfully, the beauty of on-demand wrestling means I can still bring you my insightful thoughts on what went down.
Yup, it’s another horrendously late wXw review for your reading pleasure. This time we join that German lot in Hamburg where we got a rather tasty main event between WALTER and Zack Sabre Jr. In fact, this was one hell of a card. Let’s see if it lived up to that promise.
I’m not going to try and hide it: this review is late. Over a month late to be precise. New Japan did that thing they do and put on a big old tournament which distracted me. However, I’ve reviewed every big wXw show so far this year, and goddamnit I’m going to keep going. Prepare yourself for some cold takes.
Post-16 Carat there have been some changes in the wXw landscape. Not only has Dragunov returned to pick up the title he deserves, but the former champ has been suspended, with it looking likely that he won’t be back. That bad news aside, there is a lot to be excited about. True Colours promised to be the start of a special period for wXw.
Monster Consulting (Avalanche and Julian Nero) defeated Jay FK (Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin) and LAX (Santana and Tito Ortiz) to win the vacant wXw Tag Team Titles
The titles are up for grabs following the suspension of Bad Bones. I don’t believe it’s public knowledge as to why this has gone down and while the commentary team acknowledged that it had happened, they didn’t address the reasons for it.
The match itself was a lot of fun. Having ditched Impact I haven’t seen much of LAX recently, but watching them here and over ‘Mania weekend I’ve been reminded how good they are. They had great chemistry with both teams and worked well on both offence and when bouncing around for the likes of Avalanche.
There was a lot of bouncing around too. There is no point trying to cover everything that went down here as it was an eight-minute sprint with everyone getting a moment to play. Monster Consulting were the clear favourites coming in and were deserving winners in an enjoyable showing.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Killer Kelly defeated Audrey Bride
Audrey Bride is going for a Kill Bill vibe which becomes even more apparent when you refer to her by her last name. She did a great job, combatting Kelly’s aggression with a tactical game. Every time it felt like we were about to see Killer start killing, Bride had an answer for it. She’d push her into a turnbuckle or drag her throat first into the rope to maintain control.
In the end, keeping Kelly down proved to be a difficult task. She connected with a beautiful German into a bridge and continued her recent building of momentum. Kelly is getting better with every match, and If wXw has any sense, she’ll be the long-term future of this division. I also hope that they plan on bringing Bride back in the future, this was a very assured performance and she deserves another chance.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Da Mack defeated TKO
Da Mack must have had a little groan to himself when the Klinger news dropped. His future was wrapped up in Bad Bones’s, and without him, you have to wonder where Mack goes. The rest of RISE (minus Bouncer) did accompany him to the ring, but when he presented them with a chance to interfere, they stayed on the outside.
That aside, this was an assured performance from him. He wrestled a veteran’s game against TKO, allowing him bursts of offence before cutting him off. It was the best singles performance I’ve seen from Da Mack.
TKO, meanwhile, was impressive. There’s a touch of NXT’s Fabian Aichner, as he’s a big guy who can fly. He took to the air for a couple of moonsaults as well as a Whisper in the Wind. Sadly, it would prove to not be enough as he was put down with an Unprettier after a decent performance from both men.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Afterwards, Pete Bouncer turned up and said something in German. It had the effect of RISE turning on Mack and aligning with him. It’s a shame Bouncer won’t get his feud with Bad Bones. Hopefully, they manage to find something else compelling for this group.
Absolute Andy defeated Marius Al-Ani in a TLC match for the 16 Carat Title Shot
Fuck me, Andy is a hateable prick, isn’t he? Marius Al-Ani was doing everything he could to try and take down the man who is apparently Absolute, but he’d made a mistake. He’d invited Andy into a match with no rules and in that environment, he shines.
Which led to Al-Ani having a lot of horrible shit done to him. He spent a portion of this with his hands taped behind his back while Andy beat him with a chair. It was almost uncomfortable to watch Mr No Bullshit being brutalised like that.
Not that Al-Ani didn’t give a bit back. The Ninja had a few tricks of his own, going to work on Andy with a fan that he’d found under the ring (as in the type you use to cooldown, not a member of the audience). Despite Andy being armed with his signature wrench, Al-Ani came out on top in that encounter. You’d have got good odds on that when they squared up.
If you are a fan of carnage, then this will work for you. All three portions of TLC got a workout, with the finish see Andy toss Al-Ani from the ring with an F5 down to a table on the floor below. It was a sickening bump and those of you who crave madness will find that this ticks a lot of your boxes.
Yet, I had a lot of issues with it. They went for nearly half an hour and, in among the chaos, there were a lot of slow sections. Periods where you were waiting for the next spot to be assembled. Some of those spots didn’t make sense either! Things like Andy choosing to pull two smaller half ladders out from under the ring and tape them together rather than nipping up and getting one of the big fuck-off ones set out for his use. Then there was Al-Ani climbing the ladder with his hands taped, only to get to the top and realise he couldn’t reach up to grab the contract. Marius then came down and got someone at ringside to cut his hands free, if he’d done that the other way around he’d have a title shot.
Look, it was entertaining with the wrestlers beating the crap out of each other. I just felt like the gimmick got in the way of what was going on. In saying that, even a bad TLC tends to be good, so a decent one with some plot holes, that’s pretty great.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Mark Davis defeated Lucky Kid, Ivan Kiev and Alexander James to win a Shotgun Title shot
This was a chance for Mark Davis to play the monster and he stepped up to that plate. Whether he was high-fiving Lucky Kid or slamming both RISE men at the same time, it was a big performance from a man more known for his tag-team work. I am interested to see how he fares against Bobby Gunns.
It wasn’t only Davis’s match, though. Lucky Kid continues to build momentum, even as he loses. The man is a joy to watch. All he has to do is do Lucky Kid stuff, and it gets over. James, meanwhile, has a lot to his game without connecting with the crowd. It feels like he is one puzzle piece away from being a big deal, we’re just not sure what that piece looks like at the moment.
Finally, Kiev may not have had a massive chance to shine here, but he and Kid did have an interesting section which seemed to set up the new direction for RISE. Rather than teaming up to take everyone else out, they did the old finger touch before facing-off with each other. It was an honourable move from a faction that has often been dishonourable.
In the end, Davis hit the Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck), and if that had been the entire match, it probably would have got three stars. I love that move. While the rest wasn’t anything special, it gave the crowd a much-needed break between the TLC and the main event.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Ilja Dragunov defeated WALTER to retain the wXw Unified World Wrestling Title
Placing Dragunov and WALTER into the same ring is almost a sure thing. You know what you’re going to get and it’s going to be violent. Wrestling excellence wrapped up with a whole load of chops. Poor Dragunov’s chest still hadn’t healed from its recent encounters with WALTER’s hand. It was not a situation in which the hair of the dog was the answer to his problems.
The early story here was that those chops were making all the difference. WALTER’s strength combined with his bulk wasn’t allowing Dragunov to get any steam. He’d have pockets of resistance before ending up collapsing to his knees when one of those massive hands came slamming down. When he did get some offence going, he seemed determined to slam WALTER at which point the size of The Ring General would prove to be Dragonuv’s downfall.
However, that determination would also play into the moment where this began to turn. When Dragunov finally fired himself up and hit a slam, everything changed. He was still in a war, but now he knew he could do it. Suddenly, taking WALTER off his feet wasn’t an impossible task, it was something that he had already done. The big man began to fall more regularly.
From there, control swung from side to side, momentum-shifting depending on the smallest of differences. WALTER, meanwhile, began to lose his temper. That icy facade was falling as he started heeling it up in his frustration at Dragunov’s refusal to stay down. When a ref bump prevented him getting the three, he booted the replacement in the face, and the match was declared a no contest.
Ilja Dragunov isn’t a man who retains a title that way, though. He insisted that they continue so continue they did, and as the fans chanted his name, WALTER went back to trying to kill him; chopping away at his chest. Then, in a moment that I at least felt was significant, Dragunov responded with a chop of his own and this time WALTER hit the ground. Sadly, neither the English commentators or the fans reacted to it, so maybe I’m reading too much into it.
As we entered the final act, it felt like WALTER could have shot Dragunov in the head, and he still would have kicked out. Forget wrestling. I don’t know how that man kept coming back. How he kept gritting his teeth and battling through those chops to keep this fight going. He did, though, and eventually, he connected with a Torpedo Moskau for the win.
This was outstanding. I still haven’t seen their 16 Carat battle, so I can’t compare the two (I need to watch it). However, this was beautiful wrestling. Both of these men gave everything and I can’t imagine how Dragunov’s body was feeling when he woke up the next day. It’s not a style of wrestling that will lead to a long career, but fuck me, it’s entertaining.
Verdict: Four And Three Quarter Stars
Another fantastic show from wXw. I feel like the company can do no wrong as I love everything they put out. If they can keep this up for the rest of 2018, then New Japan’s position as my favourite wrestling promotion might be seriously under threat.
Earlier this month, wXw’s We Love Wrestling tour left the confines of Germany and took a trip over to London. There, they put together a card that could have been billed as wXw vs Progress. I’ve mentioned before that I think more indie companies should work together, so that relationship can only be a good thing, especially if it means we get shows like this.
WWN capped off their WrestleMania Weekend with Mercury Rising, which despite its billing as a Supershow, was at its core Evolve 104. While there was a handful of new faces or irregular Evolve talent, that’s the only thing that distinguished it from the two events they’d already held. Not that I’m complaining, I liked what I saw.