After our trip to the World Tag Team League last month, our wXw week continues with perhaps the best tag team match in history from mainland Europe.
Four years ago, wXw were on the road to their 13th anniversary show. We’ve a lot of roster changes here, and surprisingly a lot of names and faces that are still a pretty big part of wXw in 2017. We open in Hamburg’s Markthalle with Christian Michael Jakobi acting as our host in a rather shiny plastic-canvas’d ring. Don’t worry, Thommi Giesen’s still around, and we’re in a ring with ropes that are black, red and yellow, like the German flag,
Jay Skillet vs. Sasa Keel
Keel had been a pretty big part of wXw until a little over a year ago, and he starts with a promo that’s interrupted by Jay Skillet. Yup, same guy.
Some headscissors take Keel to the outside early as Skillet unloaded on the Croat to begin things. Keel quickly rebounded with a shoulder barge before working over Skillet with elbows to the arm, before repeatedly whipping him into the turnbuckles.
Skillet was still fairly new in his career here, and he had to contend with Keel removing a turnbuckle pad in a bid to give him Snake Eyes onto the steel buckle… but Jay fought back, wheelbarrowing Keel into a near-fall. In the end, Keel’s experience told as he swung Skillet around out of a guillotine – causing a ref bump as Jay’s legs whacked the official… but the ref didn’t go down in a heap, instead shaking off his shoulder injury as Keel hit the Snake Eyes into the exposed steel for the win. Pretty good opener, and I fully appreciate there being a ref bump that didn’t involve the ref going down like they’d been shot! **¾
“Bad Bones” John Klinger vs. Demolition Davies
I’d look up to see more info about Demolition Davies, but his Cagematch profile is one of the few which have been removed at their request. So all I can say is that he looks like a bearded, heavier-set version of a masked Kane.
Bones has a hard time early as he’s giving up over 100lbs to Davies, so he starts off by hitting and running. Then he tried a slam, but it wasn’t going to work, nor was a crossbody, as Bones just bounced off Demolition!
From there, Demolition just had his way with Bones, pulling him into a short-arm clothesline ahead of a legdrop that got a two-count. After the kickout, Bones fought back, but Davies’ size was proving to be problematic as Bones got squashed with a rolling senton splash and a body attack. Yep.
From there we go to a nerve hold as Bones then took a sneak attack from Davies’ “handler” (I guess you can call her). He sunset flips back into the ring though and avoids a sit-out splash from Davies, but Bones goes back to the slam and falls back on himself. A second wind lets Bones throw some shoulder tackles that eventually took Davies into the corner, following up with a crossbody off the top rope and a monstrous death valley driver that got the crowd going! In the end, Bones gets the win with a Coast-to-Coast dropkick – going diagonally across the ring – for the pin. This was a pretty decent David and Goliath story, but Davies didn’t impress me much with that character. **½
Maxi Schneider vs. Karsten Beck
Beck was in the middle of his campaign for a better wXw here, kinda like what Drew Gulak’s been doing on 205 Live. His pre-match promo seemed to suggest that “Maxi is the name of a mother”… and I’d look to see what Schneider’s career was like, but he too is on that Cagematch no-go list.
Beck seems reluctant to lock-up, and when he does, Schneider reverses a wristlock off the ropes, before running Beck around in a headlock. It’s almost like he’s poking fun at Karsten, with a doe-see-doe on the way to an armdrag as Beck’s left frustrated. A leg spreader on the mat doesn’t do much to help things, as the pair went hold-for-hold, reversing holds. Or in Beck’s case, trying to.
At times, Beck came off like a bit of a fool as he kept rushing at Schneider, which led to him taking a monkey flip for a near-fall as this match was pretty much one-way traffic for Maxi, who pulled Beck down by the leg to end his run of offence ahead of a big back body drop. A simple chop gets Schneider a near-fall, before a missile dropkick put Karsten down… and looked to tweak Maxi’s knee a little.
After shoving away a tornado DDT attempt, Beck surprises Maxi with a piledriver, and just like that… Beck gets the win! Totally one-way traffic, but this was a lot better than I expected. Schneider looked dominant without ever getting a killer blow in, whilst Beck showed resilience. ***¼
Holy crap, how young does everyone look here?! Tommy End looks completely different to the Aleister Black we know today, whilst Ivan Kiev… yeah.
Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante) vs. New Divine (Axel Tischer & Ivan Kiev)
The SDS jump their opponents at the bell as this starts on the outside, with Tischer and Kiev finding themselves overrun early on against the forearms of Dante.
Things settled down as Tischer pulled Dante out of the corner, only to run into a powerslam for a near-fall as the Sumerian Death Squad took over and isolated Axel from a tag, peppering Axel with chops and uppercuts in a bid to keep him on the mat. Finally Axel broke free, dropping End with an Exploder… but rather than tag out he headed up for a clothesline to put Tommy down!
Kiev gets the tag in, but Tommy’s back for some kicks that only delayed the comeback, with a huge top rope elbow getting Ivan a near-fall. Tischer returns for some rolling stalling suplexes to End, but Tommy escapes and throws some kicks before eating a neckbreaker for a near-fall.
More kicks from Tommy lead to a Quebrada for a near-fall, before Dante just charged Axel into the turnbuckles with a Pounce-like shoulder barge. The SDS get a near-fall from a double-team spot that looked like a spear/back suplex combo, before Tommy End’s double-stomp onto Kiev proved to be enough for the win in what’d prove to be New Divine’s final match as a tandem in wXw. ***½
wXw Shotgun Championship: Michael Schenkenberg vs. Ilja Dragunov (c)
Along with Maxi Schneider, Schenkenberg was part of a team called Young, Strong and Healthy… but he was coming towards the end of his wXw run here with this title shot against Ilja Dragunov. In 2013, Ilja was heavily playing up his Russian roots, with a flag-waving manager called Svetlana Kalashnikova in his corner.
Schenkenberg brought the flag of Hamburg with him, so guess who the crowd favourite was here. He started off by frustrating Ilja with a series of throws from a tie-up, and that prompted Ilja into throwing some headbutts… which may not have been the wisest idea, as we’ll touch upon later. A Torpedo Moscau gets a near-fall, and Ilja stays on top with a series of clotheslines, before being forced to shrug off an O’Connor roll.
Schenkenberg lands a dropkick as Ilja’s forced to cower, but he quickly responds with a battering ram-like headbutt as Michael went into the corner. Some chops left Ilja reeling, but a shoulder tackle put him back on top before he threw Schenkenberg down to the mat for a couple of near-falls. Svetlana’s screams for any kind of bump are proving to be intensely grating, which I think was the reaction they wanted to get. Ilja and Michael trade forearms for a spell, until a series of clotheslines left Dragunov reeling, Kalashnikova tries to provide a distraction, but it doesn’t work as Schenkenberg hits a crossbody off the top for a near-fall.
Again, Svetlana gets involved, this time distracting referee Tassilo Jung as Ilja grabs his flag and uses it to batter his way out of a powerbomb… but despite taking the bump, it proved to be enough as Ilja dragged himself onto Schenkenberg to take the win. This was a pretty fun match, if not utterly jarring given what Ilja’s become in 2017… ***½
This proved to be Ilja’s final Shotgun title defence, as he was forced to vacate the Shotgun title after fracturing his skull. I’m not sure whether it happened in this match – since Ilja did throw some nasty-looking headbutts – and it was almost a year before Ilja returned to a wXw ring.
Emil Sitoci vs. Sha Samuels
This was an open challenge for Emil Sitoci, with Karsten Beck announcing who was taking it up… it’s the East End Butcher, Sha Samuels, making his return after three years away from wXw.
Rather rudely, Sha got the “who are you?” treatment before Sitoci started throwing him around, scoring a near-fall from a ‘rana… and I’m so not used to Emil being loved in wXw. Sha gets into it with the crowd as he went on a brief game of cat-and-mouse with Emil, who edges ahead with some work over Sha’s left arm. A thrown scarf distracts Sitoci as Sha uses it to choke him with for a brief moment as the Londoner eased in front, keeping Sitoci grounded.
When Sha tried to go airborne, things backfired as he leapt into a gutbuster before Emil threw in a Stunner for good measure, before some headscissors and a sunset flip nearly got him the win… only for Sha to power back into it briefly. A Russian legsweep takes him straight down for a split-legged moonsault, which Sha kicked out of, before Samuels rolls through a crossbody and turns it into a fallaway slam.
The end looked to be pretty soon after that, when Sitoci escaped a piledriver and hit a snapmare driver for a couple of near-falls. Emil tried to finish things off by going airborne, but Karsten Beck pushed him off the top rope, allowing Sha to piledrive Sitoci for the win as the Campaign for a Better wXw gathered steam. This match had its moments, but I’d have to get to know the entire storyline to make any better judgment. ***
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Hot & Spicy (Da Mack & Axel Dieter Jr) vs. AUTsiders (Big Van Walter & Robert Dreissker) (c)
Before the match we get a promo with Axel Dieter Jr, with the background audio being a touch too long. Someone else made the joke already, but this was Walter before he paid tribute to Shirley Crabtree and before his Caps Lock key broke…
Axel Dieter’s father is front and centre here – something I only know from remembering the video packages wXw aired during Jr’s departure from the company – and my God, Hot and Spicy are massively over. I guess that’s what being in your hometown will do for you! Walter and Dieter start us off, with Axel trying to ground one of the big Austrians with a headlock, before finding more success with some dropkicks instead.
Hot & Spicy then start working over Dreissker’s arm, before a pair of basement dropkicks battered the future Avalanche’s head for a near-fall. The big problem the challengers had though, was that both of the champions were about the same size of the two of them combined, and so the size and power difference soon shone through – with Walter in particular being able to swipe Hot & Spicy down with ease after a flurry of offence from them.
At one point, Axel Dieter Sr. helped Junior back to his feet after he was knocked off the apron, but Junior could only watch as Da Mack was savaged in the ring… until he was tagged in, that is, when he flew into Dreissker with dropkicks into the corner. Mack quickly returned to throw some chops, as Hot & Spicy started to exchange frequent tags in a bid to try and isolate Dreissker.
Unfortunately, the size of the AUTsiders came back into play, and the match quickly ended up on the outside as Axel takes a double-team battering ram into the ring post whilst Da Mack had the referee inadvertently tied up. That battering ram busted Axel up, and the blood flow can’t have been helped when Walter press slammed Da Mack off the stage onto his own man. Heck, they continued fighting into the crowd as Walter dropped Axel with a backbreaker onto one of the bleachers, producing a satisfying, yet horrifying cracking noise.
The sight of the bloodied and beaten Junior repeatedly had Senior trying to reach in to help his son, but alas, there was nothing he could do as the AUTsiders continued to lay waste to a bloodied Junior, battering him with a pair of splashes to the front and back… but Axel would not stay down! It wasn’t just family who were concerned, as fans in the front row craned their necks to check on Junior, who was then forced to take a chop to the throat as his blood continued to stain the canvas.
Incredibly, we’re just 20 minutes in as they packed so much into the match, but it felt like it was only going to be a matter of time before Junior’s body gave out… especially when his attempt to back suplex out of a chinlock ended with Dreissker landing on top of him. Finally Axel gets free and makes the tag to Da Mack, who’s fresh and ready to unload!
Walter breaks up a cover, which just angers a still-bloodied Junior as the challengers put the brakes on Dreissker with a headlock that led to a dropkick… and almost-a-three-count! Hot & Spicy combine to take Walter outside with a backdrop, but again the AUTsiders turn things around as Junior gets pulled off the top rope and gets squashed as the AUTsiders gave themselves a piggyback and fell onto him.
STILL ONLY A TWO COUNT THOUGH!
The Hamburg “Power Crowd” believed that the hometown guys could still do it, and when the AUTsiders ran into each other as they went to squash Axel again, the comeback came back as a Blockbuster put Walter down. A powerbomb from the giant Austrian gets a near-fall as the crowd’s emotions were toyed with, before Axel was forced to fight through a Boston crab.
Axel Dieter Senior tries to push the rope towards Junior, but Walter turns the hold into a Figure Four to prevent the fatherly help, but this time it’s Da Mack who helps, throwing a phantom dropkick after shoving Dreissker to the outside before throwing Walter off the top rope with a double-team press slam! A double-team hiptoss puts Dreissker onto Walter, and after a tope from Axel gets rid of Walter, Hot & Spicy were left in the ring to lay into Dreissker with duelling enziguiris… and we have new champions!
This was a marathon of a match, but damn close to a perfect one. An absolute war. The partisan Hamburg crowd helped amplify everything from bell-to-bell. Every bump Mack and Axel took was felt by the crowd, whilst simultaneously willing their guys onto victory. I know it doesn’t always work out, but big matches and title changes really need to be held in front of one-sided crowds more often – it worked famously well at Calgary Stampede back in the day, and just as well here too. In a vacuum, this match was great, and I’m sure it could only be amplified with a knowledge of the storylines going in. ****¾
Instantly, Axel Dieter Jr went towards his father as Walter seemed disgusted by Dreissker for the loss… but the dethroned champions headed to the back as Hot & Spicy celebrated with their hometown crowd to end the show.
As a single show, wXw’s Hamburg stop-off was a solid show that was massively dragged up by this main event. If you have wXw NOW, get on this and watch the tag team main event – if you haven’t already!