WCPW’s Pro Wrestling World Cup rumbled into Berlin for their latest round of qualifiers – featuring a couple of familiar names…

Back when the World Cup was announced in February, Ahmed Chaer’s GWF announced the following names as being entrants: “Bad Bones” John Klinger, Axel Dieter Jr, Crazy Sexy Mike, Cash Money Erkan, Juvenile X, Pascal Spalter, Lucky Kid and Tarkan Aslan. Since, then Axel Dieter Jr’s gone to NXT (he was replaced by Da Mack), whilst Crazy Sexy Mike and Tarkan Aslan also dropped out, replaced by Cem Kaplan and Rambo Braun.

We’re at Huxley’s Neue Welt in Berlin for this show, and we start with the customary promo video for our opener between Rambo Braun (in for Crazy Sexy Mike) and Cash Money Erkan. Sadly, we don’t have subtitles, which is the oddest of all choices for a primarily English product. Even wXw goes to the trouble of subtitling their content… from what I could understand, Erkan calls himself Mr Uppercut, whilst Rambo reckons he’s responsible for the revolution.

Speaking of poor choices, Alex Shane’s back on commentary. Yes, he made his usual litany of bad jokes… At least it’s not Matt Striker, but where the hell is James Kennedy?

Pro Wrestling World Cup – German Qualifier – First Round: Cash Money Erkan vs. Rambo Braun
I got bored of Erkan’s titantron in the full minute it looped on-screen before he appeared on screen. There’s a huge size difference between Erkan and Rambo, with “Cash Money” having a foot on his military-themed foe. Erkan responds to a backslide with an uppercut, as he started to display his nickname, before landing with a knee drop for just a one-count.

Rambo comes back with a backbreaker before landing a stalling suplex, but Erkan quickly responds with uppercuts in the corner before running into a Codebreaker. Erkan nearly wins with a sit-out pumphandle slam, before blasting Rambo with some uppercuts in the corner once again. They continue to exchange uppercuts and forearms before a double clothesline left both men down. Erkan gets up first and unloads on Rambo some more, before being forced to kick out of a pop-up powerbomb. After that kick-out Erkan hits a fallaway slam before a sit-out pumphandle slam was turned into a spinning suplex as the back-and-forth continued.

Rambo heads up top, but Erkan kips up and cuts him off before landing an enziguiri to leave him on the top rope. A superplex brought him down for a near-fall, before a superkick to a flying Rambo proved to be enough to get the win. For my first time seeing these guys, they didn’t impress, but they were solid enough as Erkan progresses to the finals of the qualifiers. ***

Somewhere in commentary, Dave Bradshaw tried to pass off that Mike Bailey had broken out as an international star because of the World Cup. Pull the other one, eh?

We get a promo package for the GWF here, featuring some backstage promos that felt straight out of early 00s FWA. Crucially though, the package told us nothing about where we could see the GWF… nor was any of it subtitled.

Next up is the promo package for the next match. Yep, no subtitles. Pascal Spalter had another promo after his entrance, which was also exclusively for German-speakers. Seriously WCPW?

Pro Wrestling World Cup – German Qualifier – First Round: Pascal Spalter vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger
WCPW fans at least know about Bad Bones from his hardcore matches for them this year… Spalter’s got a good 50-60lbs weight on Bones, which he uses to power away Bones early on with a series of shoulder tackles.

Spalter shoves away some mounted punches from Bones before scooping him on for a slam as if Bones were nothing. An elbow drop’s almost embarassingly telegraphed as Bones comes back with a sliding lariat for a near-fall, but Spalter’s size helps him get back into it as Alex Shane continues with the shitarse comedy about Spalter’s reality TV appearances. At least he threw in a dig at 5* Wrestling later on, but even that’s an old reference…

Thankfully, Bones stops that as a low-pe knocked Spalter down, but back inside he caught a leap off the top rope and dumped Bones with an overhead belly-to-belly for another two-count. It’s all Spalter from here, as he arrogantly tried to cover Bones with a simple foot on his chest… Finally Bones fights back with a series of chops, but his slingshot spear’s caught and turned into a suplex as Spalter hits a German suplex for a near-fall. For some reason, Spalter sits on Bones as he gets into it with the crowd, but it doesn’t cost him yet… although Bones is able to headbutt away a superplex and fly by his own choice with a missile dropkick.

The slingshot spear succeeds at the second attempt for a near-fall, before Bones gets another two out of some more superkicks. Spalter manages to find the strength to take Bones up top for a superplex, before a running powerslam got him even closer… in the end though, Spalter waited for Bones to get up rather than make a pin, and that cost him as Bones slipped out of a torture rack to roll up Spalter for the win. A so-so finish, but Spalter looked really impressive here… it’s just a shame he’s not able to break out of the German scene. ***

More pre-match promos, with what I believe Germans would say “keine Untertitel”, but at least the Mack threw in a line of English at the end!

Pro Wrestling World Cup – German Qualifier – First Round: Cem Kaplan vs. Da Mack
Kaplan was another late replacement… heck, this match was originally meant to be Axel Dieter Jr. vs. Tarkan Aslan back when the brackets were announced!

Da Mack gets a dubbed over entrance, complete with crowd reactions that don’t fit the video. Ah well!

Kaplan takes Mack into the ropes early and follows in with a series of forearms that sent the Urban German flying. Mack leaps over him and replies with uppercuts and double-handed chops before hitting a double-leapfrog dropkick as Mack started to take over. An overhead belly-to-belly gets Mack a two-count, but Kaplan comes back with a headlock that Mack hand-walks out of. Kaplan keeps on though, tying up Mack in a Tree of Woe and hitting a dropkick into him for a near-fall, along with an X-Plex, before Mack comes back with a Slingblade as he chopped his way in.

A springboard enziguiri out of the corner nearly wins it for Mack, who keeps up the pressure and gets the win with a roll-up into the Mack Magic (Ace Crusher). A little too brief, but a decent TV-style match. **½

Pro Wrestling World Cup – German Qualifier – First Round: Juvenile X vs. Lucky Kid
Lucky Kid’s persona is so different here than in wXw – really happy-go-lucky (to steal a phrase from Alex Shane before he says it), as opposed to the invader in wXw. Juvenile jumps Kid at the bell, but he’s quickly taken outside with a ‘rana and a clothesline as Kid was doing all the flying.

A tope con hilo leaves X laying, as does a missile dropkick, but Juvenile makes a comeback and starts to work over Kid with almost a version of the Million Dollar Dream. Things keep up as Juvenile drops a leg as Lucky Kid was on the bottom rope, before a double underhook suplex is followed up by that Cobra clutch again. It’s a dominating, but not exactly thrilling performance from X, who gets caught with an enziguiri and dropkick as Lucky Kid roared back into it, landing a handspring back elbow for a near-fall.

Juvenile alleviates it with a neckbreaker as he tried to get the win, with the German crowd getting under his skin with – as God as my witness – the James Drake “arse face” song. Kid rebounded with a roll-up into a DDT for a near-fall, before trying for a Dragon suplex… X fights free and hits a powerslam, before missing a swandive headbutt, leaving him pray for the bridging Dragon suplex as Lucky Kid made it to the finals! Out of the first rounders, Juvenile X impressed the least, but this wasn’t awful… just “there”. **

We now have a run of some non-tournament matches…

Toni Harting & Ronaldo Shaqiri vs. Hunter Brothers (Lee Hunter & Jim Hunter)
Oh God, Alex Shane’s going to riff on footballer names isn’t he? To be fair, Ronaldo Shaqiri does sound like he’s just picked his name off of a team sheet… well, Shane apparently was MIA for this, so we had solo Dave Bradshaw.

The Hunters were pretty much unknowns here, as Ronaldo opened up against Lee, trading wristlocks before some tags took us to Jim and Toni, the latter of which succeeded with a shoulder block and a dropkick as the Hunters struggled to get out of the blocks. A series of double-team moves keep Jim on the back foot, but a springboard back elbow finally gets Jim into it, as he tags in Lee to throw a forearm at Toni… before tagging back into the match. So much rest there! The quick tags continue as the Hunters bombard Harting with slingshot sentons, but the home team took over with a spinebuster from Harting and a series of leaping strikes into the corners.

The Hunters get taken to the outside, but it’s Ronaldo who flies into them outside with a tope con hilo, before Lee ate a bucklebomb and a spear for a near-fall. Jim’s missile dropkick breaks up the cover, before Ronaldo ate a sunset flip-neckbreaker combo from the Hunters, who then took down Harting with a top rope ‘rana. One top rope splash later, and the Hunters collected the win – given their relative standing in WCPW, I’m not too sure if I’d have had the hometown lads win, but there you go. A good showing from all four, and I’d like to see more of Ronaldo and Toni! ***½

WCPW Internet Championship: Joe Coffey vs. Gabriel Kidd (c)
Alex Shane’s back, which makes me think that tag match wasn’t originally meant to air…

Coffey starts off with the upper hand, taking Kidd into the corner as the “Iron King” (as he calls himself these days) began to trade forearms with Kidd. You got the sense that the German crowd only knew of the whole Iron Man song, and cared nought for Kidd… Kidd manages to get in a release Northern Lights suplex, but Coffey quickly trips him as the crowd again cheers.

Something tells me that this crowd isn’t exactly in tune with the “Coffey is a bad guy” storylines! Perhaps it’s just that stag party, since someone in the crowd’s dressed as Grado… nobody else seems to be making a noise either.

Kidd gets taken into the crowd for a chop to the chest, which Coffey demanded to get a count-out from… which isn’t exactly wise in a title match. For some reason there’s a tonne of confetti at ringside, which Kidd’s now covered in as Coffey continued to wear down on him. Every time Kidd tries to get back into the match, Coffey cuts him off, as a dropkick got him a near-fall before working his way into a brief Giant Swing, then a half crab.

Kidd escapes via the ropes as Coffey continued his dominance… until a weak chop seemed to just insult him. That sparked a chop battle, which Coffey ended with a headbutt, More chops come, as does a release German suplex… which Kidd just popped up from and surprised the Scot with a snap DDT. The Kidd comeback continues with a back body drop out of the corner, then a running boot, before a missile dropkick picked up a near-fall.

Coffey springs back with that jump-up crossbody off the top for a near-fall, but his Black Coffey lariat’s ducked as Kidd instead goes for the Finlay Roll and springboard moonsault a la Omega for another near-fall. From the kickout, a running boot puts down Joe, and that’s enough for the win… and a polite applause as the Scottish stag party were less than thrilled. Take those guys away, and this would have been in front of a dead crowd, so you can’t say too much about the crowd going all “bizarroworld” on them… and to be fair, they didn’t really do too much to excite the German crowd either. ***

WCPW Championship: Joe Hendry (c) vs. Primate
Joe Hendry’s reign has been like unflavoured popcorn – bland, generic, and almost to nobody’s liking. He tries to hold the show hostage with a long promo. The good news is, I can fast-forward… For whatever reason, they’re booking him against the new Hardcore champion Primate here, which means that someone’s taking a loss… or we’re getting a crap finish.

Primate started off by suplexing Hendry to the outside, following him there as we began with some brawling around ringside. They head towards the merch table, before Primate grabs a chair from under the ring. That finally woke up a crowd who had been silent, save for the “Joe Hendry is a Tory” chants that I’m pretty sure didn’t come from the locals.

Primate drove the chair into Hendry’s throat, before dropkicking him out of it… and apparently the bell hasn’t rung yet so this is all pre-match shenanigans. As was Hendry Brookseing Primate into several rows of chairs… then again into a railing. The crowd brawling ended up onto the stage, where Hendry found Primate’s mask and threw it at him a few times. I think I zoned out at this point, especially after commentary featured Alex Shane make a wisecrack that buried wrestlers for working regularly “like it’s a badge of honour”.

The crowd chanted “beer” as Primate was thrown into the bar, and Hendry gets thrown behind it as his efforts to throw water at Primate proved ineffective. FINALLY they end up in the ring, where the bell rings as Hendry hits a DDT for a two-count, before Primate escaped a Freak of Nature and landed a big spinebuster. From there, Hendry begged off as Primate roared… before the champ pulled the referee into the path of a spear from the Primate. A low blow follows, as does a belt shot… but the ref’s still down, so Primate graps a Tazmission on Hendry, and although the “Prestigious one” tapped, the ref rings for the bell…

But it’s a Dusty finish. The crowd popped for no reason as the bell was for the disqualification as Hendry’s done for using the ref as a human shield. So we get a crap match, a Dusty finish and a massive waste of time. Joe Hendry’s arduous title reign trundles on. -*

Alex Gracie vs. Kenny Williams
This was Alex Gracie’s debut after turning on Lucas Archer at Built To Destroy several weeks back, signalling the end of a Prospect team that was going to be wound up anyway. He’s billing himself as “the Legend” Alex Gracie, which feels like a rib on someone.

Especially when the German crowd chant “who are you?” at him. The perils of taking your show on the road!

A lot of the early going was based on Williams’ pace outfoxing Gracie, which led to so some cat and mouse gone wrong as Gracie misses an elbow drop, allowing Williams to regain that foothold. Gracie drops Williams over the top rope as he tried to get back into things, clattering Kenny with shoulder barges in the corner as the unreceptive crowd remained so. A snap sidewalk slam could have led to a pin, but Williams rolled to the outside as another game of cat and mouse took place… with Gracie being shown up time and time again. Williams knocks him back to the floor with a springboard back elbow, before diving through the ropes with a dropkick, then a tope as Gracie’s coming out party looked to be a damp squib.

Out of nowhere, Gracie snaps back, countering a tiltawhirl into an Eat Defeat, then a full nelson slam for a near-fall, but a clothesline nearly gets Williams the win, only for Alex to hit the Fall From Gracie (Unprettier) in a rather abrupt finish. This was far from the impressive performance that Gracie needed to break out from the comedy Prospect act – it’s going to take more than pulling a mean face to shed that! **½

Pro Wrestling World Cup – German Qualifier – Second Round: Da Mack vs. Lucky Kid
Ah, Da Mack gets another over-dub, with his theme blended in with the pre-show “WhatCulture” chants… which again looks plain weird.

Both of these guys’ first round matches underwhelmed, and we started with a lot of swinging and missing before Mack flew into Lucky Kid with a Slingblade off the ropes. Kid went to the outside for cover, and ended up avoiding a plancha before throwing himself with a tope con hilo to take Da Mack down.

Back inside, Mack takes some headscissors, but springs back in with a flying forearm before tying up Lucky in a grounded abdominal stretch that looked compact and painful. After fighting free, Kid gives and receives chops in the corner, coming off worse as he takes another running forearm into the corner.

Kid fired back into Mack with some shots as he was able to get a near-fall, before laying into Mack with some forearms in the corner. A PK from Mack turns the tide yet again, but Lucky hits a lifting reverse DDT (almost a Next Stop Driver) as he came close too, only to run into a ‘rana and a cannonball off the top from Mack! Mack gets even closer with a spinning Fisherman’s driver, before a top rope ‘rana planted Kid for another two-count.

In the end though, Kid tried to fight back, blocking a Mack Magic before snapping in with a Dragon suplex – and that’s enough to get him a spot in next month’s finals! Another match that just ended suddenly, but this was just about the best match both of these guys had tonight. ***

After the match, Tarkan Aslan – who dropped out of this show on the day – appeared on the stage to applaud Lucky Kid and give a big thumbs up. I don’t know why, but I found it funny hearing commentary filling in the blanks here.

Another GWF advert follows for their Grandslam Wrestling show. Unlike earlier, they tell you what it is – an open-air show featuring the usual GWF crew, plus Bobby Lashley, Moose, Carlito and Drago. They even give you a date, a venue (way out in western Berlin), and a place to get tickets. That is progress!

Pro Wrestling World Cup – German Qualifier – Second Round: Cash Money Erkan vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger
Erkan looked somewhat impressive in his first round match, as did Bones (in spite of that finish)… and it was Erkan (the once-typo’d “Cash Monkey”) who jumped Bones at the bell, only for the veteran to hit back pretty quickly with forearms and a massive back body drop!

Some topes from Bones knock Erkan into the front row, but the tall lad comes back with a sidewalk slam that dropped Bones onto the apron. A suplex follows from the 6’ 7” giant, who then missed a leg lariat into the chairs as he ended up crotching himself, allowing Bones to keep the match on the outside… for a few more seconds.

Erkan took over again inside, clocking Bones with an enziguiri on the top rope to daze him for a superplex for a near-fall as he took too long dragging himself over for the cover. Some uppercuts spark another battle of strikes, which Bones looked to edge ahead in as the match remained precariously balanced. A small package nearly gets the surprise win, as Bones continued to push ahead, only to get caught as Erkan came oh-so-close from a death valley driver!

The Berlin crowd finally got into voice, with chants of “Cash Money Sucks” in tune to John Cena’s theme (I agree, I prefer plastic..), as he came a little closer with a sit-out pumphandle drop. Bones tries for an improbable axehandle smash off the top, and leaps into a superkick from Erkan, before rolling outside to recover… narrowly beating that ten-count back in the process.

Another pumphandle attempt follows, but Bones fought free and manages to get up top for the leaping Codebreaker… and yet again, an out of nowhere finish gets Bones the win! Decent for the time they had, but not a stand-out match I’m afraid. ***

As a show, this was alright, but it felt really unpolished. Little things like not having English translations to promos in another language stand out when you’re hosting your show in a foreign land. Alex Shane was his usual rotten self on commentary, but that’s what we expect out of him these days.

It’s sad to say, but it feels like the combination of the World Cup being drawn out over several shows, and the YouTube debacle has really derailed WCPW. Without the luxury of weekly episodes of Loaded (for now…), the non-tournament action feels like it’s stuttering a lot. Case in point: Alex Gracie turned heel at Built to Destroy on June 16, but it was almost a month later before we got to see the next step in that development. Likewise with Joe Hendry as champion – had WCPW been able to hold more regular shows, I’m sure that there wouldn’t be dangling loose storyline threads…

Sadly, it is what it is. The Pro Wrestling World Cup, heralded as a huge tournament – which indeed, it has been – has turned into something of a millstone around this promotion’s neck, thanks to the YouTube situation. Once this concludes next month, normal service should resume, but until then, everything else just feels like it’s on pause.