The weekend is over. The shows are dropping on wXw NOW – so it’s time to wrap things up with a couple of notes that didn’t make our show-day reviews!
This isn’t going to be a diary that chronicles bars, booze or anything like that – mostly because Arnold Furious has that particular part of the market sewn up. This is more of a “mop up” of things that we couldn’t quite get into our show reviews, along with a few other notes. Oh, and of course, there are going to be spoilers in this!
We landed in Düsseldorf early on Wednesday afternoon, having been warned by Gunni (of GD Photography fame; seriously, check out his shots from wXw shows) that with that day being a bank holiday we were to expect a lot of stuff being closed. Couple that with the Oberhausen tram system being down (with me originally suspecting it being due to the bank holiday), and it made for a rather auspicious first evening. Still, at least a walk to the Turbinenhalle was good for finding your bearings… even if I was 48 hours too early for the first show!
Thursday was more of the same, with the trams still down… which meant that I’d taken it upon myself to walk from Oberhausen train station to the Centro shopping centre. A fun hour… even more so when I got to the Neue Mitte bus/tram stop and found that it was only the trams not running, and rather than my hour-long walk, I could have bussed it. In less than ten minutes. Mental note… made! (other mental notes that are worth making: all single tickets on the Oberhausen/STOAG bus/tram network are already validated… so no need to stamp your tickets; and if you’re travelling three stops or less on any route, the “short trip” option is valid and cheapest!)
So our first trip within-the-trip was to Essen, for the Inner Circle. A handy tip for anyone looking to go is this: make sure you plan your trip to Essen, and don’t just rock up at Oberhausen Hauptbahnhof! The train from Oberhausen to Essen Zollverein Nord is fairly a quick one, but that train run only once an hour in each direction – so check before you travel (and ideally, leave plenty of time for buying a ticket too, especially for the return journey).
As for the wXw Wrestling Academy; we’d been there a year earlier for a seminar that wXw laid on for the media folks, but this was the first time I’d been for a wrestling show… and in short, it is almost the perfect, intimate venue for a wrestling show. With standing room on all four sides of the ring, plus a small raised area at the back of the room for those who don’t want to be so close to the ring but still want to see stuff. These Inner Circle shows don’t need to be a “blowaway card” as the crowd tends to use this as a chance to warm themselves up – but if you’re coming over for a 16 Carat Gold or a World Tag Team League weekend, you need to try and make it to one of these shows. Nice, compact, and fun – exactly what you should be looking for in a wrestling show!
As for the quintet of World Tag Team League shows (the three tournament shows, Femmes Fatales and the Shotgun XXL taping), well, our reviews of those shows are up, save for Shotgun which’ll be posted next weekend (it drops on wXw NOW on October 19th, so we’ll not talk about it until then), so give those a read. However, there’s some stuff we didn’t get to cover in the instant fall-out of those shows:
The David Starr/Jurn Simmons match came across a lot better on tape than it did live, at least from my vantage point. As we tipped off in our updated review, David Starr’s gotten into some more “hardcore” stuff than he’s been used to as of late, and the sight of the human pincushion at the end was a little nauseating. If you’re eagle-eyed, yes we have tweaked our review from night one’s main event, given that a lot of the stuff we wrote off as “walk and brawl” out of our line of sight made the match extra special… and even more gory by the time we got to the end.
While these matches weren’t offensively short, if the quality of the lineups continue to grow, then Femmes Fatales in 2019 may need to start a little earlier in order to give the matches more time.
If you go by star ratings, you may have overlooked this, but Martina vs. Melanie Gray was noteworthy for multiple reasons. Nearly seven months to the day from the match that earned scorn over 16 Carat Gold weekend, Martina shot out of the gates here, almost like she had a point to prove. Full of intensity, this was perhaps Martina’s best performance to date, and a match that laid to rest whatever the hell that was back in March. The one big “huh?” over Martina has been the presentation of her, which admittedly does vary from promotion to promotion… but as long as the comedy “ohmygod, I do a move?!” is gone, then those grumbles will remain a distant memory.
The news of Absolute Andy’s shoulder injury caught a lot of people by surprise (to be fair, who expects an injury?); however, the winner of the impromptu interim title match was absolutely surprising. Pardon the pun. Given the travelling contingent, I was fully expecting Bobby Gunns to leave with the title… So when that wasn’t the result, it perhaps tipped off that there’s “more for Bobby to do” before he gets to hold the big one. Could we have an early contender for 16 Carat Gold next year, or will that be where the coronation takes place? Either way, you’d have to think it’ll be on a show where there’ll be a travelling audience…
We’ve been big fans of the Dirty Dragan storyline, starting from Shotgun 348 back in April where the Dirty Dragan Trial Series started. Sure, he got off to a good start beating Francis Kaspin… but things derailed with a loss to Veit Müller (admittedly brought on by overconfidence), before the Ls continued to pile up from Emil Sitoci, WALTER and (most recently) Kris Wolf.
So in that regard, the outcome of the storyline perhaps wasn’t a surprise. What WAS a surprise was just how quick it came to a head – from appearing on night one to help shave Jurn bald, to the announcement on night two that “the trial series has to come to an end, and if I lose, I leave”… to the farewell match lasting less than five minutes long. On the night, we commented that this match felt way too short to be a final chapter, but from what’s been said by Dragan afterwards, that really was it. Save for some academy shows, that’s the end of Dirty Dragan in wXw, at least for the time being, which is really anticlimactic. I mean, I get the whole “if we have to write him out, we may as well do the farewell in front of a big crowd”, but the result left a bit of a sour taste behind. Proof that storylines in wrestling doesn’t always give you a happy ending…
We went four-for-four when it came to getting reviews up absurdly quick… that perhaps wasn’t the aim (although it’s always nicer to have what you’ve written posted online as soon as possible; as hunting around Oberhausen for free WiFi to hit “post” isn’t the easiest thing to do late at night!)
“They said it couldn’t be done…” – what was originally slated to be “a bunch of fans going bowling” ended up being a monster success, with plenty of roster members present (and folks from “the office” to boot). Proof, if needed, that where there’s a will there’s indeed a way… and now I’ll be left with two things on the to-do list from this: 1) Practise my bowling and 2) cross my fingers that Knippi’s are prepared for a potentially larger turnout if there’s a repeat of this.
A huge shout-out needs to go to Katja Pilz, Sjörd Zegers and the entire crew who handle the VOD for wXw NOW. Heck, throw in everyone who had a hand in this, from the crew at BE 24/7, the folks who handle the audio and video (Denis, Baris and everyone else listed in the credits) had their own part to play in getting these out without a hitch. The fact that the Inner Circle show from Thursday was up before Sunday’s final night began speaks volumes. With five shows to record, edit and turn around in quick time – with OTHER SHOWS to tape at the same time, don’t forget – these festival weekends have an increased workload for the VOD crew… a workload that they have managed to breeze through. No wonder there was that Monster sponsorship this weekend!
When the blocks were drawn up for this tournament, everyone had picked group A as the “worker’s block”… and it’s safe to say that it delivered in spades. If you’re into your star ratings, not a single group A match went below **** – so for that alone, your €9.99 for wXw NOW is going to be worth it this month! Meanwhile group B wasn’t a slouch at all, but was more about the character work – particularly in establishing Jay-FK’s arrogant/chickens**t routine for those who may not have been overly familiar. Yeah, it was gutting that Monster Consulting lost the belts the way they did, but they got to the top once – and there’s no reason they can’t knock down Jay-FK again. Hint: use tables!
I’m always a little wary when someone approaches me at shows… especially when I’m having to rack my brains and ask myself “did I say anything that could be taken badly?” So it was very pleasant to hear so many people come up to us with kind words (from both sides of the curtain) – in spite of what those Google Analytics tell us, it’s nice to know we’re not screaming into the void all the time.
As ever, a massive, massive thanks go out to Patrick Strübbe, Tassilo Jung and Michael Schwarz for co-ordinating the media centre activities; and to everyone who made themselves available for interviews (Avalanche, Julian Nero, Tass, Dirty Dragan, Jurn Simmons, Francis Kaspin, Jay Skillet & Bobby Gunns). Thanks again to Allan (@allan_cheapshot) for sense checking a lot of stuff during the shows, and to Kris Wolf for being a boundless ball of energy during the shows she was on. Once we’ve managed to pull our recordings of these, we’ll add some notes to this story – although they’ll doubtless appear in podcast form from some of the other outlets present.
All in all, 2018’s World Tag Team League had to go down as a critical success. In an environment that could best be described as challenging, given the internal changes within wXw, that the promotion was able to pull off this past weekend without any obvious issues, at least from the perspective of a fan. We always say this, but with 16 Carat Gold one of the hottest tickets of the year, you really ought to make your plans for a trip to Germany if you can. As fun as these shows are to watch on wXw NOW, there really is no substitute for being there live… if only to see if the British/Irish/travelling contingent can completely take over the Alex after the final bell on Sunday!