Who’s Next returned as the latest batch of GWF wannabes came closer to reaching their dream.

The opening titles tell us who’s gotten to the next round – which leads to the finals at GWF’s Showdown event on December 8. Something tells me we’ll be cramming in a LOT here…

A-Buck (won a fan vote, beat RP Tyson)
Cris Opus (won a fan vote, lost to Cody Kidman)
Nico Block (won a fan vote, beat Matze)
Don Sheen (won a fan vote, beat Nathan Phoenix)
Maverick (won a fan vote, beat Ayden Cortez)
Onur Daglar (won a fan vote, lost to Andy Steel)
Cody Kidman (here via a wildcard, beat Cris Opus)
Kevin Lazar (lost to Thrashman, who won the fan vote couldn’t make the trip)
Andy Steel (here via a wildcard, beat Onur Daglur)
Tom Tom (beat Red Rage, who won the fan vote but is injured)

We’re back inside Huxley’s Neues Welt, with John Klinger, Tarkan Aslan and Doug Williams acting as the judges while wearing headset microphones like they were doing infomercials. They do a wacky blur around everyone who isn’t talking to begin with, I guess to focus on who’s who? Pascal Spalter’s the fitness coach as he puts the ten trainees through drills… some of which we get shown in clip form, along with some of the shortcuts that the judges saw the trainees taking. Don Sheen had points knocked off, while Nico Block, Cris Opus and Cody Kidman were also flagged.

Next up is promo time!

Don Sheen recognises how much he flopped during the drills, but he has his heart set on winning his matches in under three minutes. Nico Block just wants to win the thing, while Kevin Lazar called himself the “chosen one”… who’s back despite losing the fan vote. He blames the fans… Cris Opus tells us he’s lost weight to become a pro wrestler, and has lost more weight since the first round… Tom Tom looks (and sounds) like a nervous boy. We just get a clip of promos from the rest of the field, which included A-Buck (who’s just had a WWE tryout in Cologne).

Finally, it’s match time! It’s a ten man tag, which comes with miniscule face shots as they denote the “heel team” and the “face team”:

Nico Block, Onur Daglar, A-Buck, Maverick & Kevin Lazar vs. Cody Kidman, Andy Steel, Don Sheen, Tom Tom & Cris Opus
We start with time wasting as Lazar and Opus going in a tie-up that they shove off of. Lazar grabs a headlock, then a wristlock, as the judges provide live criticisms of their form.

Opus’ headlock takedown makes Doug drop a F-bomb, right before Lazar came back with a clothesline. Lazar tries to drag Opus into his corner, but instead he’s charged into the good guys’ corner as Tom Tom comes in to help with a double-team suplex. Maverick tags himself in as we start again with a tie-up into the corner, followed by a cheapshot on the masked Tom Tom. There’s a hideous series of clotheslines from Tom Tom, as Maverick powders to the outside… but there’s no dive as tags bring in A-Buck and Don Sheen. Good luck. Sheen gamely throws some body blows at Buck, but a clothesline puts him down and into the corner for more stomps and boot chokes. So far, A-Buck’s the most competent guy in this.

Nico Block tags in as Buck didn’t have a chance to sell… and Block instantly makes the judges wince with a suplex. Sheen tags out to Kidman, who mounts a comeback with some dropkicks, but a jump cut takes us to a legdrop from Block, as Daglur then tagged into the match. An attempt at a big boot/sidewalk slam’s not timed well as we get more cursing with Tarkan Aslan calling things outright dangerous.

A Kidman dropkick barely staggers Daglur, so he tags out to Andy Steel, who throws some big forearms, then a spinning heel kick. We jump cut to Steel hitting a missile dropkick right as the time limit expired. As you’d expect, everyone had wildly different levels of experience on show here, with my two picks being A-Buck and Andy Steel, who looked head and shoulders above the rest. **

The judges ponder their decision as they have to eliminate some guys here – and they instead tell us who’s going through… Andy Steel, A-Buck, Maverick, Cris Opus, Cody Kidman and Onur Daglur.

On the whole, not a bad collection of finalists, but you know my takes on this… we close with some comments from James O’Leary (who as a voiceover guy came across a lot less robotic than I’ve been used to on GWF’s programming). Don Sheen blamed his conditioning for his exit, while Tom Tom blamed his promo… and bizarrely, Nico Block seemed to point towards some racism, saying that the judges clearly didn’t like the “East Germans”.

This episode went by in a flash, and nicely packaged the athletic, entertainment and performance sides of wrestling in a 15 minute block. Sure, if you dig a little deeper, you could perhaps point to the fact that some of the names in this are regulars on GWF’s “Underground” shows, but I’ve largely enjoyed Who’s Next, as it’s largely in the vein of the more recent series of Tough Enough – and hopefully this is a format that can continue as a brief YouTube short for a while to come after this season wraps up.