The latest in an ongoing series of “Yes, this really happened”… with thanks to Mike Kilby for the tip-off.

Before we had World Tag Team League – and now the World Tag Team Festival – wXw partnered up with Combat Zone Wrestling and Big Japan Pro Wrestling for a long weekend of shows based around round-robin action. That’s now what we’re here to look at today though… there’s one match on the card that absolutely leaps off the page. And no, it’s not CCK vs. Hot and Spicy… although Baby Chris Brookes is quite the sight in2 19.

At this point, Hiroshi Tanahashi was days away from unseating AJ Styles to win the IWGP title for a record seventh time, eclipsing Tatsumi Fujinami to claim that record for himself… while Absolute Andy… had hair. Oh, and was far removed from being around gold, coming up to six years on since he lost the wXw heavyweight title (before they’d unified the belts in wXw).

This one comes from the Turbinenhalle – for real this time – with a red hot crowd to greet New Japan’s ace. As always, Sebastian Hollmichel and Christian Bischof are on German commentary…

Absolute Andy vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Neither Andy nor Tanahashi are looking to rush in here, as we’ve got a 30-minute time limit… giving the crowd time to start off duelling chants… which Andy loses out on, so he powders to the outside.

When we got going, Tanahashi looked to work over Andy’s arm, but has to reverse a reversal to take him down in an armbar. Andy gets free, but had to pull Tanahashi’s hair to avoid being shot into the ropes as the crowd certainly decided who their favourite was. Cheapshotting from a Test of Strength gave Andy a brief opening, but it’s quickly nullified by Tanahashi’s springboard crossbody out of the corner, as the Ace built up steam, sending Andy outside with a dropkick.

Not to worry – Tanahashi just followed him out with a pescado!

An eye rake gives Andy a chance, as he resorted to grabbing a chair from the crowd, chopping Tanahashi into it only to get caught with a clothesline as Tanahashi wasn’t having any of his games. Instead, Tanahashi switches roles, booting Andy out of the chair, before a side headlock ended with him getting pushed into the ring post as Andy looked to win by count-out. Of course, it doesn’t end like that, as Tanahashi rolled back in, only to get choked on then dropped with a running backbreaker as Andy looked to make a point with certain fans.

An abdominal stretch followed, with Andy grabbing the ropes periodically… and of course, referee Tassilo Jung catches him and kicks the arm away, before a back cracker puts Andy right back on top. Andy keeps the pressure going, whipping Tanahashi into the corner before a switcharound saw Tanahashi respond with a leaping forearm, before a slam sets up for the flip senton off the middle rope, crushing Andy for a near-fall. A spinebuster gives Andy another opening, which he capitalised on with the F5 – which would have gotten him the win, were he not so lackadaisical with it all.

Snake Eyes and a clothesline add to the momentum for Andy, as does a knee drop, before Tanahashi finally fought back, countering a superkick into a Dragon screw. Slingblades follow, as Tanahashi looked to finish him with a High Fly Flow… only for Andy to push Tass into the ropes to crotch Tanahashi instead. A dropkick keeps Tanahashi up top, but he’s able to reposition himself to block a top rope ‘rana, only to leap into a superkick as Andy fell on top of him for another near-fall. Andy tries his luck off the top, but misses an elbow drop, before he rolled away as Tanahashi similarly crashed and burned with a massive High Fly Flow.

Andy looks to capitalise with an A-Klasse, but Tanahashi slinks free and manages to counter with a strait-jacket German suplex for a near-fall. A sudden superkick keeps Andy in it, but the frustration was starting to show here, as he followed that up with a Sharpshooter, sitting down low on Tanahashi until we got the obligatory rope break.

The desperation continued as Andy went up for a moonsault… missing it, allowing Tanahashi to hit back with Ace’s High, then a High Fly Flow… and that’s all folks. Pretty decent stuff this, with both men playing their greatest hits, but in the end there was ever only going to be one result as Tanahashi remained unbeaten in singles action in Europe. ***¾