We’re back in Oberhausen for the latest go around of the AMBITION shoot-style tournament, featuring the likes of Bobby Gunns, Shigehiro Irie and Fuminori Abe.
AMBITION 13 First Round: Bobby Gunns defeats Laurance Roman via referee stoppage in 4:40 (***)
AMBITION 13 First Round: Icarus submitted James Runyan in 6:03 (***)
AMBITION 13 First Round: Fuminori Abe submitted Oskar in 3:56 (**¾)
AMBITION 13 First Round: Shigehiro Irie defeats Ender Kara via referee stoppage in 2:07 (**½)
AMBITION Next Generation Fight: Peter Tihanyi defeats Goldenboy Santos in 6:08 (***¼)
AMBITION 13 Semi-Final: Bobby Gunns submitted Icarus in 4:10 (***¼)
AMBITION 13 Semi-Final: Fuminori Abe submitted Shigehiro Irie in 5:57 (****)
AMBITION Super Fight: Fast Time Moodo and Jonathan Gresham ended in a no contest in 9:56 (***½)
AMBITION 13 Final: Bobby Gunns submitted Fuminori Abe in 12:21 (***¾)
Turbinenhalle 1 in Oberhausen was the site of the latest card as part of 16 Carat Gold weekend, as the shoot-style Ambition tournament returned. With only Shigehiro Irie having previously won it in this year’s line-up, it’s an open field, that’s for sure… As is the norm, we open with the parade of entrants, complete with Oskar nonchalantly resting his arm on the top rope. Tall people problems. Also “as is the norm,” we’ve got no commentary on this, so you can hear everything. Which’ll be needed later…
AMBITION 13 First Round: Laurance Roman vs. Bobby Gunns
Roman’s shaved his head since he was last in wXw…
A front facelock from Gunns instantly ends in the ropes, before things went to the mat, with Gunns then going back to that facelock as he landed a half-hatch suplex. Roman recovers and took Gunns’ back, but they roll into the ropes to force a break. A side headlock on the mat from Gunns gets countered with headscissors as Roman looked to go for an armbar, but that’s too close to the ropes – even if it was Roman who needed the break after Gunns’ escape. Gunns goes for the bare feet of Roman next, looking for a toe hold before he nibbled on the former Waschbär’s toes… which somehow went unpunished. A German suplex from Gunns sees Roman pop right back up… before a second German suplex led to Roman being unable to answer the ten count. ***
AMBITION 13 First Round: James Runyan vs. Icarus
Icarus came out swinging for this one as he backed Runyan into the corner.
A takedown from Runyan’s marred by Icarus tying up a free leg, but Runyan pulls his way free before scoring another takedown. Icarus tries the same trick with the leg, but Runyan’s got the mount, eventually rolling with Icarus in the search for a cross armbar, before Icarus wrapped himself around the Canadian’s leg. Dualling leg locks ensue, but Icarus rolls them into the ropes for the break… then pulled Runyan down as the ropes again saved the day. A kick from Runyan leads to another takedown, but Icarus again goes for the leg as Runyan needed that break. The constant focus on the leg has Runyan hobbling, but he’s able to catch Icarus with a knee as he dove for a takedown.
Icarus beats the standing ten count, then took down Runyan into a leg lock… and with nowhere to go, Runyan tried to neutralise the hold with one of his own… only for Icarus to cinch his in deeper to force the tap. ***
AMBITION 13 First Round: Oskar vs. Fuminori Abe
By the end of the weekend, I think everyone was roaring in time to Oskar…
Abe started by rolling Oskar down to the mat, as the pair looked to grab a body part. It was Abe who managed to do that first, restraining a wrist before bopping Oskar on the head. Headscissors from Oskar are quickly escaped as the pair stand off… Oskar takes down Abe for a Boston crab, which ended in the ropes. So Oskar boots Abe in the head repeatedly before getting punched in the head in return. A snapmare and a kick to the back has Abe ahead briefly, as the pair then exchange strikes, leading to a flash Octopus hold from Abe which ended in the ropes.
A headlock takedown from Oskar has him ahead, but Abe counters out with headscissors before a cross armbar forced a quick submission. A decent showing from Oskar, but the more experienced Abe was able to progress here. **¾
AMBITION 13 First Round: Ender Kara vs. Shigehiro Irie
Kara tries to sting Irie with kicks to start, before a waistlock from Irie took things to the corner.
A mini POUNCE knocked Kara into the ropes, forcing Kara to go back to the kicks as Irie needed the ropes for the break. Wash, rinse, repeat from Kara, who adds a spinning enziguiri to knock down Irie. Those kicks eventually get caught, as Irie hits a leg-trapped German suplex, before he took down Kara, tied him up and elbowed Ender in the neck until referee Tassilo Jung had to break it up. Short, but it taught you a lesson: don’t repeatedly kick Shiggy! **¾
AMBITION Next Generation Fight: Peter Tihanyi vs. Goldenboy Santos
This one started with Santos taking Tihanyi to the mat, but the ref stood them both up before Santos started to go for the arm.
Santos gets in the mount, but quickly had to go to the ropes after Tihanyi went for a triangle. From the restart, Santos again takes down Tihanyi, before he got the back… right by the ropes. After some shoving, Santos double-legs Tihanyi to the mat, only for Tihanyi to come back with a side headlock, then a triangle armbar. Tihanyi’s thrown down in a powerbomb, but regains the arm of Santos, only for another powerbomb to see both men spill to the outside. The ref calls for a time-out so they can reset after that landing. They want to restart… and do so by trading chops, before a leg trip and a PK drew a warning from the ref as Tihanyi was used to chaining that stuff together.
They resume with Santos getting back up, as a slap and a rear naked choke had Tihanyi in trouble… but he frees himself and hits an enziguiri before pulling Santos into a triangle armbar for the stoppage. ***¼
AMBITION 13 Semi-Final: Bobby Gunns vs. Icarus
Opening with a handshake, Gunns and Icarus quickly headed to the mat as Gunns grabbed a leg, only to get pulled into the ropes.
On the deck, Gunns grabbed Icarus’ foot, only for a rope break to be called as Gunns went for a heel hook. Another crack at the half crab allowed Gunns to kick Icarus in the back, before a leg lock from Gunns was countered by a toe hold. Both men stand back up after that, grabbing the other by the wrist as they traded swipes, before they traded German suplexes. We’re back to the swipes before Gunns slipped in with an Octopus hold, pulling Icarus to the mat for the quick submission. Short, sweet, and very impactful. ***¼
AMBITION 13 Semi-Final: Fuminori Abe vs. Shigehiro Irie
The last Ambition tournament gave us Daisuke Ikeda vs. Yuki Ishikawa… and THAT headbutt. Does another all-Japanese match-up provide something equally memorable?
Starting with waistlocks, we’re headed to the mat as Irie looked for an arm, but ended up having to reset. Irie’s back in with a takedown, but Abe goes from defence to attack, only for Irie to take the mount as an armbar attempt from Abe ended in the ropes. From the reset, Abe shoots for the legs, but Irie catches his head between his legs and hits a double sledge to the top of Abe’s head. Abe gets up and instantly rolled Irie down, looking to torque the ankle as we moved into duelling leg locks. Irie pulls himself to the ropes to force a break, before Abe targeted Irie with kicks… and got slapped for it. Then it got real. Headbutts!
Irie first. Then Abe replied with a punch to the head, then another, and another, before Irie tied up Abe’s leg and arms to hit a BRUTAL capture headbutt. Being there live, that CLONKing sound will live with me for a long while. Somehow, Abe gets back up, so Irie took him down and looked to end him with the same elbows he’d put Ender Kara away with… but Abe holds on, only to get swept back down. This time though, Abe countered out into an armbar, then a double armbar… and that was enough to make Irie give up. My head hurts, and I just watched that. They got a standing ovation, and at the risk of being called out, why yes, they should make Japanese lads headbutting each other a staple of Ambition. ****
We get a vignette from Fast Time Moodo, who reminisced on his 20 years in martial arts – having first stepped in a dojo 20 years ago to the day. He’s celebrating that in the Super Fight tonight – a match that changed twice in the days before the show…
AMBITION Super Fight: Fast Time Moodo vs. Jonathan Gresham
Originally slated to be Moodo vs. Biff Busick, then vs. Marius al-Ani, Gresham stepped into the breach here.
We’ve a tentative start as Moodo looked to sting Gresham with kicks, while Gresham’s attempts to ground Moodo ended with him getting knocked through the ropes. Finally, Gresham caught a kick and swept the leg… but in positioning for a hold, Gresham took himself into the ropes for a break. A jab to the gut caught Gresham off guard, as Moodo began to sting him in the quad with kicks, taking him to the mat for stomps and elbows that forced Gresham to roll to the ropes. Another kick’s caught as Gresham sweeps the leg, this time avoiding going to the ropes as he tried to tie up Moodo, who freed himself with headscissors as he rolled on top.
Gresham manages to regain the mount as he repositioned Moodo into the middle of the ring, grabbing a head and arm tie-up. The pair swing with palm strikes and kicks, before a knee took down Gresham ahead of a triangle armbar, which ended quickly via the ropes. Answering the standing ten count, Gresham caught more kicks by the ropes, before a boot to the head knocked him down. Moodo tries to follow up, but Gresham takes every second of that standing ten count, before another exchange of strikes ended with a kick to the inside of Gresham’s thigh. He tries to continue, but in the end the match is waved off as a no-contest, ruled as such due to an accidental low blow. Some might call it an odd result, but this was pretty good while it lasted, with Gresham clearly getting frustrated by Moodo’s strike game. ***½
AMBITION 13 Final: Bobby Gunns vs. Fuminori Abe
Abe started this one as the aggressor, rolling Gunns to the mat, but to no avail as the pair reset in the corners.
Back on the mat, Abe looked for a chinlock, then a cravat, clinging on as Gunns tried to slam his way free. Instead, Gunns grabbed an armbar as he tied up Abe on the deck, then grapevined the leg as he moved into a crossface. Abe powered up out of it, spinning Gunns to the mat for a side headlock as he proceeded to bop the former champion on the head whilst in a wristlock. Gunns frees himself as Abe went for the arm, but Abe stayed on the joint, stretching it on the mat before Gunns rolled out. A kick from Gunns is caught, but he’s able to roll Abe down to the mat for a leg lock. Abe countered with one of his own before he tied up both of Gunns’ legs, forcing him into the ropes for the break.
Aggrieved, Gunns slapped away Abe’s offer of a handshake, then proceeded to spark an exchange of elbows between the two. Snapmares and kicks to the back got both men a ticking off as they were technically kicks to a downed opponent. Gunns does it again, as things explode with elbows and punches, with Abe again going for the head. Uppercuts and kicks from Gunns lead to a PK as Abe looked to be on jelly legs, but countered another Gunns kick into a Dragon screw from there. An ankle lock followed as Abe rolled down, but Gunns rolled through into one of his own, ending in a rope break. More kicks from Gunns saw Abe sucker in Bobby for another ankle lock, which got turned into a trapped leg German suplex.
Gunns returns the favour, before Abe punched him out… and from the restart, Gunns found himself dropped via another head kick. The pair paintbrush each other with palm strikes, before Abe caught him out with the Octopus hold… except this time, Gunns was able to counter into one of his own. They go back and forth on the hold, but in the end Gunns was able to apply it once again, leaning back on Abe to force the submission – and win the Ambition tournament. As a consolation for going out in the first round of Carat, it’s quite the prize, as Gunns goes one step further than his previous best in 2016. ***¾
These Ambition shows aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – if you’re not into the style, you’d be best served swerving this one, but for those who do watch, there was some good action involved, and a sickening moment as well.