For years, whether wished for or realised, the call and refrain around wrestling halls in Europe was “Absolute!” “Andy!” This past Thursday, the man behind those calls, passed away at the age of 40.
Absolute Andy was a name that, on paper, was absurd. What is an Absolute Andy, after all? How can an Andy be absolute? Turns out, Andy can be absolute, and a giant of the European scene. Depending on when you jumped on board with wXw, you’ll have known Andy under one of many guises. As a tag wrestler, he was one half of Hot and Holy. AbLas. Champion of Champions. A4. Jay-AA. The VeterAAn. Der Adler von wXw. Mr 100%. Die Rohrzange aus Franken. Part of the WOW Movement… and perhaps a career-defining, if not much more-observed run towards the end of the 10s, winning 16 Carat Gold, then the Unified World Wrestling title…
For me, my fandom with wXw started in late 2016, not long after the launch of the wXw NOW video on-demand platform. At that point, Absolute Andy was starting to team more regularly with Marius al-Ani in a tandem that would become known as A4 – especially since the Champion of Champions team with John Klinger was being phased out. That initial run at the 2016 World Tag Team League wasn’t quite successful, losing to the LDRS and to Cerberus before beating Chris Hero and JT Dunn to end their chances of making the tournament finals. In spite of that, it wasn’t too long after the tournament that A4 would find gold – with JML having been stripped of the tag titles they’d won at Tag League, and the belts being put up in a ladder match at Broken Rules. Andy and al-Ani would win out over Lio Rush and David Starr on that night, and would hold onto them for the best part of six months, beating the likes of RINGKAMPF, the London Riots, CCK (not the Kid Lykos version) and more before they lost to the Young Lions – Tarkan Aslan and Lucky Kid – as the RISE stable, erm, rose in wXw.
Andy and al-Ani would be locked with RISE heading into 2017’s World Tag Team League… where things would take a major turn, and I’m not talking about Batmandy and Robinani. Having won one and lost one going into the final night of the tournament, A4 had the Spirit Squad as their final block opponents – a match many felt was a gimme going into the start of the show, and could well have set up for A4 to reclaim the tag titles, given that Tag League’s format needed you to just win the tournament to win the titles.
All looked to be going well for A4, but then…
One superkick from Andy derailed things, allowing the Spirit Squad to claim the win. There’d be no second run for A4 as tag team champions… but nor would there be the instant feud between Andy and al-Ani, as Andy would instead leave the building in a t-shirt and his ring gear. A storyline suspension took Andy out for the rest of the year, as we instead built up to Andy and al-Ani as a first round match for 2018’s 16 Carat Gold tournament, a decision that looked odd on paper, but was quickly rationalised by the end of the weekend, when Andy left Oberhausen with the trophy.
The next few months would see Andy continue to battle with al-Ani on a variety of tour dates, culminating at True Colors in a TLC match for a title shot – with this pre-match video package summarising the end of A4 and the subsequent months:
Andy would win that as well, before he really began to go deeper into his character work, starting with a short-lived tag team with Melanie Gray dubbed the Amazing, Spectacular, Invigorating, Monumental, Wonderful and History Absolute Andy Experience featuring M.G. A loss for Andy there meant that another match with al-Ani would follow, with Andy again picking up the win in a no holds barred match in Hamburg, before Andy would call his shot – and go after Ilja Dragunov’s title at August’s Shortcut to the Top. The build-up to that of course was laden with promos in what’d be the dying days of Shotgun, such as this gem from Bielefeld:
Or this one in the days before Shortcut to the Top:
Of course, Andy would win the title in Oberhausen, putting away Dragunov with an A-Klasse, to the horror of the crowd… and of course, Andy took his win as humbly as you’d expect with a segment on Shotgun that reinforced his believe that he was the “Pope of wrestling” among many other of his nicknames.
Following defences against Ilja Dragunov and Zack Sabre Jr. on a, shall we say cursed weekender with PROGRESS, Andy’s first major defence was scheduled to be at 2018’s World Tag Team League – a weekender where he had recent history. A three-way with former champion Ilja Dragunov and 2018’s Shortcut to the Top winner Bobby Gunns was going to be a big test – which led to Andy painting himself with this wonderfully flowery promo which saw Andy tell the story of a duck hunt. It doesn’t matter if you spoke German or not, Andy’s mic skills were such that you hung on his every word.
Unfortunately, this match was cancelled due to Andy injuring his shoulder – so instead, Bobby Gunns and Ilja Dragunov would contend for a rare interim title, which was won by Dragunov, before a recovered Absolute Andy would unify the belts in Hamburg in a violent main event.
As 2018 turned to 2019, Andy and al-Ani were back on terms and were tagging once more, but we’d also see the start of a new partnership as Absolute Andy would begin to tag with Jay Skillet and Francis Kaspin – Jay-FK – before firmly putting Ilja Dragunov behind him with a win in the Käfigschlacht at Back to The Roots. After that, 2019 took a turn for Andy, as 16 Carat Gold saw him lose the title to a resurging Bobby Gunns… and then lose a rematch in just nine seconds weeks later.
Yes, there was another flowery promo from Andy in the build-up to Carat, telling the story of Florence Chadwick who gave up so close to the end of a 26-mile swim because she lost sight of her goal. Trust me, Andy said it so much better than that summary!
Despite coming out on the losing end of things, the fact remains: Absolute Andy was one half of the main event in wXw’s largest show. Making his entrance from the heights of the Turbinenhalle, this was the biggest match in the company’s history, and while Andy may not have been as beloved as the day he beat Bryan Danielson for the wXw Heavyweight title back in 2009, it was still another milestone in his career, one for those who jumped on board with wXw more recently. The remainder of the year would see Andy align himself more with Jay-FK, “mentoring” them as the uncool dad that ironically ended up getting liked more and more. Andy’s attempts to slither his way into a Shotgun title shot saw him wrestle with technology, “just like yer da:”
Unfortunately for Andy, the end of 2019 saw the pupil outwit the teacher, with Skillet rolling up Andy to win the Shotgun title in a four-way at the 19th Anniversary show… before Skillet would retain a month later at Back to the Roots.
16 Carat Gold would see Andy win the tag titles for what’d turn out to be the final time, tagging with Skillet to beat the Pretty Bastards on night one of the weekender, before they’d defend later in the weekend against the winners of the first (and sadly, only) Jay-AA Tag Team Experten Wild Card Gauntlet – the Young Guns. Then… the pandemic. Going into 2020’s 16 Carat Gold, we all were expecting a shutdown at some point – but as I left Düsseldorf airport, ironically passing Andy as he was killing time, none of us could have forecast what came next. Wrestling in Europe was almost exclusively behind closed doors for the next 18 months, with wXw mostly restricted to closed-set tapings, such as the Shotgun 2020 reboot that saw Andy get installed as a stand-in sporting director, since Karsten Beck was unable to travel for medical reasons.
There was also the slight issue of the tag titles – which Andy was still a holder of. The other half of the tag champions, Jay Skillet, was unable to travel, so a replacement was needed… only for the match to be edited down to show just the finish in the wake of Speaking Out. Andy’s outings for the rest of the closed set era would be limited to an appearance in the Shortcut to the Top match, and an eight-man tag against Bobby Gunns, Maggot, Abdul and Aytac.
When crowds returned, so did Andy… albeit as the host of the delayed 20th Anniversary show (which, sadly, opened with a belated tribute to the late Karsten Beck), where he’d continue the throughline from Shotgun 2020 by again needling Norman Harras in backstage segments. In the months that followed, Andy would have his final two matches for wXw – a surprise return at December 2021’s 21st Anniversary show, where he’d be the mystery challenger to unseat Norman Harras for the Shotgun title.
A successful defence against Dennis Dullnig at 2022’s Back to the Roots would prove to be Andy’s final outing, with a scheduled Shotgun title defence during 16 Carat Gold weekend being cancelled due to injury.
While only the last four years of his run was seen by many thanks to wXw NOW, the sheer range of opponents Andy had during his career speaks volumes. Chris Hero. Bryan Danielson. Shingo Takagi. Jon Moxley. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Jeff Jarrett. Matches that I hope are able to resurface as fans around the world continue to pay tribute to “der Adler der wXw.”
The trust that was placed in Andy to be given those names and positions over the years says it all – and while the fans will look back on moments like the toilet sign, those post-Carat Shotgun interviews with Thommy Giesen, the promos building up the Carat match with Bobby Gunns, the Oberhausen Open bowling team with Killer Kelly… the comedy match at World Tag Team Festival 2018 (or just the entrance, going from water bottle, to Super Soaker, to a full-on bucket…), Jay-AA, or even the Shotgun 2020 run and the endless needling of Norman Harras. A mainstay of wXw for over a decade, Absolute Andy’s legacy will be felt on both sides of the curtain for years to come.
Ruhe in Frieden, Andy. Wir werden dich vermissen.