It’s time to return to Oberhausen – as the first weekend in October signals the arrival of wXw’s autumn festival!

Beginning October 5 and ending October 7, the Turbinenhalle plays host to the third year of the league in its current format, following 2016’s three-day tournament that was won by the JML team of Shane Strickland and David Starr, and of course, last year’s epic which saw RINGKAMPF’s WALTER & Timothy Thatcher edge past Massive Product in the final. Prior to the current round robin system, wXw held a tag tournament in 2015, with a three-day event crowning new tag team champions – events we covered here.

So what’s in store this year?

Well, announcements for World Tag Team League began to be made in March, when Aussie Open qualified by beating the Hunter Brothers in an impromptu qualifier on the wXw show in London. Since then, the field of eight has been rounded out and split into these blocks:

Block A
CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham)
Lucha Bros (Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix)
Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani)
RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)

Block B
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)
Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero)
Team SPLX (Angelico & Jeff Cobb)

At time of writing, the matches haven’t been scheduled, and only RINGKAMPF are returning in the current World Tag Team League format, but here’s a quick glimpse at each team.

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
Kyle Fletcher is EIGHTEEN. Just let that sink in for a bit.

Something else to mull over here: prior to the summer of 2017, Davis and Fletcher hadn’t teamed before. Fast forward fifteen months or so from their first meeting – in a singles match – and Aussie Open have become one of the hottest tag teams in the UK, having worked together in PROGRESS, Rev Pro, ATTACK!, Fight Club Pro, Defiant, OTT and of course, wXw. Some have even tagged them for a potential run in New Japan’s World Tag League later in the year – and while that may preclude them from winning (and defending) the wXw straps, this is a perfect way to warm up for what’ll be an equally gruelling tour.

Calamari Catch Kings / CCK
When it comes to the tag team picture, Chris Brookes has seen a lot of change, as those three letters have technically represented five different pairings, with Kid Lykos’ unfortunate luck with injuries meaning that Brookes’ has been teaming with Travis Banks, Timothy Thatcher, AR Fox, original CCK partner Jonathan Gresham… oh, and an inflatable Lykos under the CCK initials.

The recent CCK renaissance of Gresham and Brookes has already generated some instant classics – with their matches against LAX and Sexy Starr for PROGRESS in New York and Seattle being of a particular vintage… while Aussie Open vs. CCK for Rev Pro in August needs to be seen to be believed. As for their chances in the World Tag Team League… well, I would have to think it depends on whether Jonathan Gresham is available for the rest of the year. I can see CCK just about squeaking through to the tournament finals, but as for leaving Oberhausen with the tag team titles… that’d be a massive shock if that were to happen.

Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)
One year ago, Skillet and Kaspin were just starting to find their feet in wXw, and were thrust into action against the Briscoe Brothers in a match that helped shaped their fledgling team.

Since then, they’ve stolen the wXw tag team titles, engaged in a summer-long feud with Monster Consulting over said belts, and have now found their way into World Tag Team League, with a side story from Shotgun of Kaspin threatening to quit the company if he doesn’t get his chances. Jay-FK’s change of attitude earlier this year has really helped them settle into a groove, having gone from what’s known as a “white meat babyface” tandem to a pair of arrogant, cocky so-and-sos who are unbearable. In a good way. Being home-grown could make Jay-FK a decent prediction to win the whole thing, especially since the league format means they can make it to the finals without necessarily beating the current tag team champions. That would be the ultimate insult…

Lucha Bros (Penta el Zero M & Rey Fenix)
Whatever you want to call them, these two haven’t had the best of luck when it’s come to wXw’s festival weekends. Originally announced for 16 Carat Gold earlier this year, before having to withdraw due to Lucha Underground commitments, wXw finally have them and my word, they’re in among a group that many have tagged as the “show stealing” group.

Away from Lucha Underground, which we’ve never watched an episode of because the show is still not legally available in the UK, Fenix and Penta have been tearing it up in 2018. AAW, Impact, MLW – all promotions we’ve barely touched here, but trust me, their outings have been incredible… and there’s no reason to suggest that we’ll see any different in Oberhausen. As to whether they’d be able to make it to the finals… I’d be extremely surprised, given how stacked their block is, and as such I don’t see these guys leaving Germany with even more gold.

Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero)
Coming into World Tag Team League as the reigning champions may be a curse rather than a blessing, as Monster Consulting need to win World Tag Team League in order to leave Oberhausen with the tag team titles.

Last year, the Young Lions failed to make the finals – and so lost their titles in the process – while Cerberus – in the form of Ilja Dragunov and Julian Nero – were stripped of the belts going into 2016’s tournament. So… in a block alongside Aussie Open, Jay-FK and Team SPLX, you could argue that the champions have an “easier” path on paper… but there’s still the small matter of the conniving Jay-FK that will do anything to capture the tag titles they feel should be theirs. Everything to lose and very little to gain… this will be a defining weekend for Monster Consulting.

Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani)
Given the events over BOLA weekend, this is a risky one – but I’ll hold my hands up and say that Okami are my blind spot of this tournament.

The son of Shinya, Daichi Hashimoto made the switch from kickboxing to pro wrestling and debuted for ZERO-1 in March 2011… but it wasn’t until June 2015’s switch to Big Japan Pro Wrestling that Daichi managed to find a niche for himself. Initially teaming with Kazuki Hashimoto, it was a pairing with Hideyoshi Kamitani that would prove more fruitful – even if runs with the Yokohama Shopping Street 6-Man Tag Team Championship alongside Daisuke Sekimoto weren’t exactly headline-grabbing. Kamitani and Hashimoto are both former BJW World Strong Heavyweight champions – that is, the top title in Big Japan in the promotion’s Strong division (that is, for folks who don’t indulge in). The pair have form in tag leagues previously, winning the Big Japan Strongest Tag League last year, so don’t count these guys out!

RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)
Returning in their bid to win World Tag Team League for two years in a row, RINGKAMPF are perhaps one of the tournament favourites – not least since neither WALTER nor Thatcher appear to be involved in any of the singles title pictures.

Since RINGKAMPF lost the tag titles to Da Mack and Bad Bones over 16 Carat Gold weekend though, they’ve teamed more in the States than they have in wXw, largely due to Thatcher’s tour with wXw coming to an end… but make no bones about it, in terms of dominance in the ring, on their day RINGKAMPF are a cut above everyone else. Why else would they be in the tournament for the third year running?

Team SPLX (Angelico & Jeff Cobb)
Save for a trios match in Fight Club: Pro, these two haven’t been on the same team together… which makes them a bit of an unknown quantity going into this tournament. Some have suggested that Angelico may have been a replacement, with another Bro perhaps being initially “chosen”, but this unofficial second “Lucha Underground” team should satisfy the casual fans whom may have been disappointed by the lack of a “WWE-familiar” team like we had last year with the Spirit Squad.

If you’re looking for line-ups… well, you’re in luck. Here’s what has been announced by wXw so far:

INNER CIRCLE
We start with a show on Thursday October 4 at the wXw Academy in Essen – tickets for this are limited to 150 fans, and we’ll be making our first trip there for a show. Announced thus far is:

Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani) vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)
Timothy Thatcher vs. Fred Yehi
LuFisto vs. Kris Wolf

WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE – NIGHT ONE
Friday October 5, Turbinenhalle
Warm-Up Match: RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. Coast 2 Coast (Shaheem Ali & Leo St. Giovanni)
Hair vs. Hair: David Starr vs. Jurn Simmons
Shotgun Championship Number One Contender’s Match: Julian Pace vs. Fred Yehi vs. Emil Sitoci vs. Lucky Kid
Toni Storm vs. Meiko Satomura
Group A: RINGKAMPF (WALTER& Timothy Thatcher) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham)
Group A: Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani) vs. Lucha Bros (Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix)
Group B: Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) vs. Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero)
Group B: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Team SPLX (Jeff Cobb & Angelico)

…and if you’re not doing the Jim Smallman Q&A, then there’s the small matter of the Oberhausen Open bowling tournament that’s been organised by @the2sarahs on Twitter. Entries are closed, but you can come along after the first night of Tag League. It’ll be at Knippi’s Bowling Palace on Max-Planck Strasse (in the same area as the Mercure hotel, for those of you staying there) We’ll be sponsoring the wooden spoon, which’ll be a load of Bons for the Turbinenhalle to use on the Saturday and Sunday to drown your sorrows!

FEMMES FATALES 2018
Saturday October 6, Turbinenhalle
wXw has massively loaded up this year’s show – at time of writing, we’ve ten names for the show, which typically has been an eight-woman tournament.

With Melanie Gray’s defence of her wXw Women’s Championship against Martina announced, that leaves us with an eight-woman field for the Femmes Fatales tournament, with the following first round matches drawn:

Meiko Satomura vs. Wesna
Kris Wolf vs. Killer Kelly
Toni Storm vs. LuFisto
Audrey Bride vs. Millie McKenzie

WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE – NIGHT TWO
Saturday October 6, Turbinenhalle
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Bobby Gunns vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. Absolute Andy (c)
wXw Shotgun Championship: Marius al-Ani (c) vs. winner-of-four-way
Wesna vs. Toni Storm
Group A: Lucha Bros (Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix) vs. RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)
Group A: CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) vs. Okami (Hideyoshi Kamitani & Daichi Hashimoto)
Group B: Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
Group B: Team SPLX (Angelico & Jeff Cobb) vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)

FAN EXPO
Sunday October 7, Turbinenhalle

As is tradition, coming on the afternoon of the final show, wXw’s Fan Expo has suddenly grown a little more poignant after Monday’s news that Christian Michael Jakobi would be taking a leave of absence from wXw… and in the resulting aftermath, the weekly Shotgun show would be coming to an end. The original plan to tape Shotgun matches here is still happening, but this’ll air as a Shotgun XXL show to bring the series to a close.

WORLD TAG TEAM LEAGUE – NIGHT THREE
Sunday October 7, Turbinenhalle
Lucky Kid vs. Tarkan Aslan
Wesna vs. LuFisto
Group A: CCK (Chris Brookes & Rey Fenix) vs. Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M)
Group A: RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) vs. Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani)
Group B: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)
Group B: Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) vs. Team SPLX (Jeff Cobb & Angelico)
World Tag Team League Final

Tickets are still available via wxw-shop.com – and if you can make it to Oberhausen, it’s sure to be a blast!