Ilja Dragunov gave plenty of blood, sweat and tears as wXw’s 17th Anniversary show came to a head with the 16 Carat Gold winner challenging Bad Bones in a no holds barred match.

A late change to the show saw Zack Sabre Jr. drop out due to illness – so that match with Marius al-Ani was canned, and replaced with the return of Pete Dunne to wXw for the first time since last year’s anniversary show. Of course, those pesky WWE deals meant that the match isn’t broadcast. Anyway, we open with a video picking out some big names from the very early days of wXw. There’s a younger Thommy Giesen… Claudio Castagnoli… Tassilo Jung in a lighter referee’s shirt… wXw’s founder HATE… and now we jump to future that’ll be made today, with the first wXw women’s champion being crowned here. Meanwhile, the campaign for a better wXw’s completed today as Karsten Beck’s inducted into the wXw Hall of Fame…

Of course, wXw’s in the Turbinenhalle Oberhausen, and we open with Marius al-Ani in the ring after his loss to Pete Dunne. The English call is coming to you via Rico Bushido and Emil Sitoci… and hey, I know that position on the balcony!

We’re thrown to the ring as Marius calls out Absolute Andy. Andy’s up on the balcony, despite supposedly being banned from here. Marius seemingly challenges him from the safety of the ring… and that prompts Andy to make his way down through the crowd. Of course, Andy’s not going in empty-handed as he grabs a chair from under the ring, but they just lay into each other as Andy charges Marius repeatedly into the turnbuckles.

The site of the A4 break-up sees both men give and take shots as security finally hits the ring… and they are USELESS. A4’s implosion continues as the crowd begged security to let them fight… and they get their wish, with Andy smashing out the seat of a chair over al-Ani’s head. I’m not sure how safe those shots are, but I love the visual of the seats popping out like that.

Andy keeps up, F5’ing the ring crew, before taking out Marius with another F5, this time into the ring post, before breaking more chairs over his former tag partner’s back. A sit-out Dominator keeps it up as Marius does a stretcher job – with an elbow drop onto the stretcher from that snake. The injuries from the attack are looking to keep al-Ani out for at least January, per the wXw reports…

Andy walks to the back, and we’re now into our first match proper…

Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) vs. Jay FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)
Julian Nero heads to the ring… and straight out so he can dish out some business cards to those in the front row. The certainly certified career consultant is certainly a tongue-twister of a nickname, Mr Nero…

Speaking of Julian, his insistence on offering Jay Skillet 5 minutes almost got him into trouble… so Avalanche comes in and impressively lifts up Kaspin as he was going for an ambitious armdrag. Kaspin’s able to use his speed to get some offence in, but Avalanche always has strength in his back pocket, and easily dumps Kaspin with a belly-to-belly as the former Cerberus pair looked to be comfortable… until Nero’s sent into Avalanche as Jay FK chain together some offence.

Unfortunately that just pissed off Avalanche, who dropped both halves of Jay FK at once with a Samoan drop as Skillet took a pasting in the corner, with Nero’s step-up clothesline almost getting the win. Avalanche keeps up on Jay, grounding him in a bear hug, before charging him into the corner as Skillet tried to even think of making a comeback.

A double stomp out of Skillet helps him on his way as Kaspin makes the tag in, returning with a top rope crossbody to Nero before he had the daunting task of taking down the Avalanche. Yeah, he needed to trip him up to get Avalanche on the back foot, as Jay FK manages to get a double stomp/neckbreaker combo onto Nero – forcing Avalanche to drag him to safety. A Meltzer driver-style brainbuster almost ended badly, with Avalanche having to make another save.

Impressive Avalanche is impressive once more as he shoved Kaspin into Skillet, before Nero returns to boot Francis into a powerslam for another near-fall. In the end, Kaspin just eats a Final Consultation (double-team Go To Sleep) followed by a Blue Thunder Lariat from Avalanche for the win. A fantastic showing from Monster Consulting… it’s almost like they’re in a main event in a few weeks time! ***¼

Jurn Simmons vs. David Starr
Jurn’s got a new-ish video wall, but no desire to air guitar. Uh oh… but hey, at least Massive Product are wearing their matching tights from World Tag Team League!

Simmons and Starr shake hands at the off, but this quickly becomes an ironic handshake deal as Simmons overpowered Starr in the early going. Starr’s able to avoid an elbow drop as he used Jurn’s aggression against him… at least until Jurn used it the right way and just clotheslined Starr as he took over, almost bullying Starr like he was back in a school playground. Starr’s able to escape a Doctor bomb and take Simmons into the ropes for a kick or two, but it’s Jurn who hits a superkick as Starr’s sent to the outside. When he returned to the ring, it was more of the same – suplex throws, inverted bodyslams, and whatever else Jurn could think of to show up his (presumably by now) former tag team partner.

An attempted clothesline from Simmons gets headbutted away as Starr starts to block stuff, only to run into a spinning back suplex as Jurn deep six’d Starr. The Product’s unrepentant though, and Jurn continues the bully-boy tactics as Starr tries to fire himself up, eventually succeeding with the “Pretty Pumped” inverted tiltawhirl slam. Cheers Emil for having that name handy!

Starr follows that up with the Violence Party in the corner, before low bridging Jurn onto the apron as a Product Recall’s blocked in the ropes. Instead, Jurn heads up top and gets caught with a belly-to-belly for a near-fall, before Starr sneaks in the Cherry Mint DDT after a Product Placement was stuffed. The Han Stansen lariat wipes out Jurn, but the Dutchman’s quickly back with venom as a Massive Boot decks Starr, and we’re back to Jurn just throwing David around with ease.

An old-school backbreaker and a sit-out powerbomb keeps Jurn on top, as does some pummeling right hands as he looked to finish things… but Starr escapes a piledriver and surprises his former partner with the Product Placement to get the win! A real come-from-behind win as David Starr got his first singles win over Jurn – something that could bode well for another opponent he’s struggled against recently… ***½

After the match Jurn held out a hand for Starr, and the handshake’s accepted… but it’s a ruse! Simmons boots David in the Starrs, and heads outside for something he’s hidden under the ring… it’s that Singapore cane he used to nearly behead Alexander James in Hamburg, and Starr gets the same treatment here as Jurn left his former partner laying.

We cut to Thommy Giesen in the ring after this for some 16 Carat Gold build – Travis Banks, Jeff Cobb, Mark Haskins, Chris Brookes, Penta el 0 M and Fenix are in the tournament so far… and now we have two more names: Avalanche and Jonah Rock! The field is half-full, and now we get the video package for the next match…

wXw World Tag Team Championship: Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) vs. RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) (c)
In a roundabout way, RINGKAMPF won the tag titles from the Lions at World Tag Team League, albeit without ever beating them thanks to the way the tournament was structured…

The early going saw Lucky Kid just get decimated with chops as WALTER had no time for his shenanigans… and Tarkan Aslan didn’t fare too much better either, with Thatcher and WALTER having it all their own way in these opening stages. Lucky Kid tags back in, but is understandably reluctant to come in, and when he’s getting more Christmas presents in the form of WALTER’s chops… wouldn’t you be scared too?

It’s all RINGKAMPF here, as Lucky Kid gets thrown around with gutwrench suplexes for fun, at least until Pete Bouncer appears for a distraction. Ivan Kiev’s there too, hitting WALTER with his Shotgun title, as the Austrian takes a double stomp on the walkway from Aslan… who didn’t blow out his knees a la Low Ki. That flurry left Timothy Thatcher in there on his lonesome, taking a handspring elbow from Lucky Kid for a near-fall as this match turned into a handicap match for a while. It didn’t look too good for Thatcher as the referee had a hard time keeping one of the Lions in, as the chop-assisted German suplex – the Circle of Life – almost gave us new champions.

Finally WALTER returns and gets the hottest of hot tags as he threw his hand through the Young Lions by way of chops and clotheslines, before kicking off Lucky Kid’s face after he flipped out of a German suplex. A butterfly’d powerbomb to Aslan nearly wins it, and now we’ve got Kiev and Bouncer on the apron for another distraction. Tarkan Aslan uses that to grab a title belt, but WALTER just chops it clean away as the Lions get grounded in a pair of rear naked chokes… and there’s your submission! That felt a little sudden as a finish, but hey, RINGKAMPF overcoming RISE’s numbers game continues to show their dominance as WALTER and Thatcher enter 2018 as tag champions. ***½

Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the post-match stuff where RISE beat-down RINGKAMPF, before the save was made by Axel Dieter Jr. and Axel Tischer (now Marcel Barthel and Alexander Wolfe in NXT) as that surprise was saved only for the live crowd in Oberhausen…

What we do see though is some footage from the warm-up where Melanie Gray beat down Martina, forcing the Session Moth to be carried away by paramedics, placing tonight’s wXw Women’s Championship Tournament final in doubt. There’s plenty of teases in the video package of Killer Kelly and Melanie Gray, and when we get to the match, we see why…

Melanie Gray, complete with the attitude change, is out first… and she takes the microphone to tell us that “for unexplained reasons” Martina can’t wrestle tonight. So Gray demands to be given the title via forfeit… only for Christian Michael Jakobi to make an appearance. Long story short, she’s gotta fight for the title, and I guess we have a standby – the woman who finished third in the standings: Killer Kelly!

wXw Women’s Championship Tournament – Final – Melanie Gray vs. Killer Kelly
Melanie explodes out of the gate as she clearly felt that she should have just been given the title… it’s a more vicious side of the diva as she chokes Kelly in the ropes before running into her with some knees in the corner.

Despite a brief comeback, Kelly’s kept on the mat, at least until Melanie’s attempt at a swinging side slam’s met with a guillotine choke… one that’s quickly broken with a spinebuster as the relative veteran found herself on the defensive. A spear ends Kelly’s run, as Gray turns her around into a Cloverleaf, but they’re too close to the ropes and Kelly’s able to break free.

Melanie’s attempt at a dive sees her sent to the outside as Kelly follows up with a PK off the apron and a crossbody off the top to the floor! Still, Melanie recovers and hits a swinging slam to send Kelly into the front row, before rolling her back inside as Gray seems to be taking her sweet time here… and sure enough, she went for another Cloverleaf, which Kelly this time turned into an inside cradle, and we have another upset!

Melanie Gray is furious, but what can you expect? That’s the price you pay for grandstanding! Killer Kelly, who wasn’t even in the tournament when it started, is your first wXw women’s champion, and you’ve got to assume that 2018 will see her fending off Melanie Gray’s renewed challenge for the title. As for the match, well, much like the rest of the tournament, it was short, but pretty intense for the time they had – a fine way to cap off Kelly’s impactful time so far in wXw. **½

We get an announcement from Thommy Giesen that the main event will be a no-DQ match… but if there’s any involvement in that or the Shotgun title match from RISE, then the challenger will be awarded the match, and the title!

Next up is Karsten Beck’s Hall of Fame induction, starting with the video package from the last few episodes of Shotgun, before Christian Jakobi and Tassilo Jung gave their speeches. Beck finally made an appearance to accept the induction, running through his career… but just a head’s up: this entire segment was all in German. Maybe we’ll get the subtitles later, as it’s insane to even expect a fully-translated segment in wXw’s usual turnaround.

wXw Shotgun Championship: Bobby Gunns vs. Ivan Kiev (c)
After a year that’s seen Bobby Gunns claim high-profile scalps (Da Mack, Homicide and Koji Kanemoto to name three), can he crown it all by taking some gold home to Bremen?

Gunns looked for the cross armbreaker early, but Kiev’s able to escape that as his challenger quickly takes him into the ropes for the hanging armbar instead. It’s all submission attempts from Gunns early, as he seemed to have Ivan’s number, but Kiev manages to outfox Gunns around the apron as he turned things around with a diving knee.

Kiev tries something new, and misses with an Arabian press, before Gunns just knocked him off the top rope and sent him crashing to the floor as the momentum started to swing all over the place. A running clothesline knocked Kiev off the apron again, as Gunns again went to his submission game, trying for a guillotine that Kiev easily breaks by charging him into the corner.

Another armbar in the ropes forces another break, but Gunns stayed up top for too long afterwards as Kiev’s easily able to ‘rana himself away. Kiev quickly finds himself on the defensive as a leap off the top misses, with Gunns going back to the guillotine, before Kiev escapes and throws in a head kick to get himself some breathing space. That breathing space is quickly shut down when Gunns snaps Kiev’s middle finger as he started a long spell of joint manipulation on the champion, who’s forced to get his feet onto the ropes for some freedom.

Out of nowhere, a Pele kick keeps Kiev in it, but he goes for his title belt as he tried to find a way out of the match… Gunns ducks the belt shot and after locking in a guillotine, ends up taking Kiev’s death valley driver. A second one’s teased, but Gunns avoids it as he manages to trap Kiev in another cross armbreaker, this time trapping the leg as well as the King of Smoke Style robs RISE of some gold! An enjoyable scrap, with Gunns having had his submission game established to the point that it’s a believable end to anymatch at any time… ***¼

Ahead of the main event, Emil Sitoci notes that RISE continues to slip – before they muse over whether this could continue?

No Holds Barred for wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger (c)
It felt a lot more, but this was Ilja’s second crack at the main title after winning 16 Carat Gold earlier this year – and given the build that wXw’d given him with that three-part documentary, some felt that today was his day. Others perhaps felt that the addition of the “title changes on interference” stipulation was too much of a giveaway.

“Bad Bones” came out on his lonesome here, and was instantly met with a firey Russian as Ilja took the fight to Klinger from the off. A full nelson backbreaker sent Klinger to the outside as Ilja kept up the pace with a tope on two sides of the ring, before a third was stopped by a chairshot from the champion. That chairshot drew blood, and Ilja’s firmly looking to put himself on that proverbial Muta Scale…

Clubbering forearms spatter Ilja’s blood even more, and this is going to be a long night for Dragunov given how he’s bleeding barely three minutes in here. Knees in the corner from Klinger don’t help things, nor do stomps as the champion seems to want to keep that blood a’flowing. Bones looks to make full use of the no holds barred stipulation as he grabs some chairs from under the ring and uses them on Dragunov, but Ilja finally ducks one and gets in an enziguiri.

He then gets swatted away with ease as Bones uses a chair to swipe away a springboard cross body, and this is starting to become a little unnerving to watch. Dragunov actually begs for more, and of course, Klinger obliges, using another chair to knock Ilja off the top rope and to the outside once more. There’s still fight in him though, as Ilja spits blood at Klinger, before scoring with a sunset flip powerbomb onto that pile of chairs in the ring.

That seemed to spark a fire in Ilja, as he almost beat Bones with a knee to the face and a Grüße aus Moskau (discus lariat) before going to the pile of chairs as Dragunov whacked Klinger with one… and tossed the frame into the crowd! Another chair’s thrown at Bones, which led to Ilja going Coast to Coast for a near-fall, before a back-elbow gets caught and turned into a half-and-half suplex as Bones swung the momentum back his way.

Ilja catches a Decapitation kick and hits a lariat… while keeping hold of the champion’s wrist! Someone’s been watching those Okada tapes as more lariats follow until Bones hits a low blow and a small package as Dragunov is forced to kick out. A series of slaps sees Ilja fire up again, but a single headbutt ends that as a thunderous DDT onto a chair left Dragunov down once more for a two-count.

Another chairshot misses as Ilja tried to swipe it away with his arm, before he instead forces Klinger onto his knees for a series of Bryan Danielson-esque elbows, but Klinger’s back to stomp on his head some more, before Ilja uses a Torpedo Moscau to block another chairshot! That’s the cue for Ilja to find a table, which he sets up in the pool of blood that he’d left from earlier in the match, before shooing away the front row… and this can’t end well.

Ilja returns to the ring as he tried to clothesline Bones off the apron and into the table, but Klinger holds firm and counters with a slingshot spear back into the ring! Ilja crawls onto the apron, but returns with a lariat of his own before going for a suplex on the apron… Bones counters with a boot, then hits the Big E spear through the ropes and through that damned table!

Dragging Ilja back into the ring, Bones looked to put the finishing touches with a chair-wrecking Conchairto, but it just made Zombie Ilja rise from the almost-dead! Ilja shoved aside the referee as he went to fire back again… but Klinger was waiting with a Shadow Driver, and that Awful Waffle proved to be enough to end this bloody war as Bones left Oberhausen with the belt. Well, when Ilja bled from the start, we knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, and so it came to pass. Lots of blood, lots of devastation, and plenty of popped off chairs… Bad Bones ends the year as champion, and as for a tearful Ilja… what’s next? ****

Well, this tweet – and the closing screen that read “THANK YOU ILJA” – could be taken a thousand ways…

The 17th Anniversary show perfectly encapsulated wXw’s year – Ilja Dragunov’s fight for the title continues to go on, as John Klinger seemingly watches RISE crumble around him. No tag team gold for the Young Lions… Ivan Kiev lost the Shotgun title… Klinger’s walking alone as a champion in RISE… and that stuttering run may continue in the new year, as Back to the Roots was announced to have the third annual Käfigschlacht cage match, pitting RISE’s John Klinger, Ivan Kiev and the Young Lions against RINGKAMPF and Monster Consulting.

How’s THAT for a statement of intent for the start of year 18?