What do you do the morning after a late night? Head back to the Turbinenhalle for some shoot-style wrestling, of course!
For those unaware, Ambition is a one-afternoon, single elimination tournament under shoot-style rules. Victory is usually via submission or knockout, and there are rope breaks, much to the chagrin of Matt Riddle (who said as such during Friday’s media rounds).
The pre-tournament parade of entrants revealed that Heddi Karaoui was off the show, with Laurance Roman replacing him in the tournament.
Ambition 9 – Quarter-Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Alexander James
Timothy Thatcher is all fired up for this! James is going barefoot, and quickly gets taken down as Thatcher looked for a leg lock, before a rope break led to James throwing some knees into Thatcher’s ribs.
Thatcher’s back with a single leg crab, but we get a rope break as James kept having to find escapes… a rebound belly to belly off the ropes put James down for a seven count, only for him to get caught in a triangle armbar, forcing Thatcher to squirm to the ropes for a break. A spinning back-hand chop looked to have put Thatcher down, but he beats the count and is right back with a keylock for the win! Beautiful grappling to get us underway.
Ambition 9 – Quarter-Final: Bobby Gunns vs. Marius al-Ani
We’re quickly in the ropes as it’s all al-Ani early on, fighting to take Gunns’ back, ending with a victory roll-style move into the ropes as neither man was able to grab a body part. Gunns escapes some head scissors, and tried to work his way into a heel hook, but Marius escaped and hits a head kick… only to get caught and taken down in a leg-trapped armbar as Gunns booked his place in the semis!
The big story here, especially in hindsight? The crowd making Bobby Gunns lose it on his way to the ring as they chanted “Gunns! Bobby Gunns!” in time to his theme…
Ambition 9 – Quarter-Final: Jonah Rock vs. Mike Bailey
Big lad versus kicks… what’ll win? Well, Bailey did throw some kicks, but Speedball was forcefully taken down with a belly to belly from the Australian, who had to drag his way into the ropes for a break.
Rock’s size meant he was seemingly able to take down Bailey with ease, but one kick to the back of the head catches Jonah off guard, and Bailey quickly mounts him for a tap-out via rear naked choke. Good David vs. Goliath stuff here, as Bailey seemed to be looking to outlast Jonah’s cardio before capitalising.
Ambition 9 – Quarter-Final: Laurance Roman vs. David Starr
Roman tried to grab an ankle early, but instead it’s Starr who wheelbarrows the Dresden native as he eventually took him into the corner for a rope break. Another break follows as Roman went for a mounted guillotine, before Roman mounts the back and tries to throw some punches to Starr’s ribs, forcing another rope break.
After walloping Roman with the Han Stansen lariat, Starr keeps up with a series of German suplexes… and that’s all folks. Almost a whitewash for the product!
SuperFight: Matt Riddle vs. WALTER
There’s a tentative start as both men traded takedowns and counters… featuring slaps from the ground up as they whaled on each other… until WALTER gets to the ropes, that is.
A swift kick to the ankle sends Riddle crashing to the mat, as does a gutwrench powerbomb. Riddle beats the count and eats some bombs from WALTER, before grabbing a rope to avoid a leg grapevine attempt. As soon as he’s back up, WALTER decks Riddle with a big boot, but Riddle gets up at nine and fires back with some ground and pound until the ref waves the match off. Great stuff to end the first half of the show – with the crowd being treated to a rather different style of match than we’re used to seeing between these two. Hopefully for WALTER, the loss is out of his system quickly as he’s got the big title match later tonight!
Ambition 9 – Semi-Final: Bobby Gunns vs. Timothy Thatcher
Thatcher slapped away the offer of a handshake… and Gunns makes him pay instantly with a back suplex before going to the ground and pound. Thatcher rolls under the ropes to avoid the cross armbreaker, but the Shotgun champion goes right back to the ground and pound.
Gunns looks for a keylock, but Thatcher gets a foot to the ropes again, before recovering with some knees the ribs of Gunns, who then had to make use of the rope breaks. Gunns grabs a nice ankle lock after that break as he looked to transition it into a STF, but Thatcher made it to the rope just in time.
The rebound belly-to-belly puts Gunns down again, but Bobby’s quickly up and onto the back of Thatcher, in search of a rear naked choke, only to get caught in a cross arm breaker attempt as the pair both went for the same move. Thatcher won out, switching up to an ankle lock that ended instantly in the ropes.
Gunns again goes for a rear naked choke, but Thatcher counters with a side slam, almost forcing the win by stoppage as Gunns narrowly beat the standing ten count. Another beautifuly fluid series of submission counters follows, as Gunns ends up grabbing a mounted guillotine, only for Thatcher to pop free and take Gunns down into the Fujiwara armbar for the submission. This was sublime grappling at it’s best – some nice exchanges between Gunns and Thatcher made this an enjoyable watch.
Ambition 9 – Semi-Final: David Starr vs. Mike Bailey
We’ve another tentative opening as Starr knows what to avoid… so he dives right for Bailey’s legs to try and snuff out those kicks, before lifting Speedball into the ropes for a break.
A kick stings Starr’s hand, and makes him even more wary as some back heel kicks from Bailey even had Starr on the run as he was looking to enter the guard, forcing the Product for a rope break! Starr catches a kick and manages to throw Bailey with a German suplex, then a Northern Lights-ish suplex… only for Bailey to knock Starr down with a single kick… and that led to the stoppage as Starr beat the ten count, only to collapse again as Tassilo Jung waved off the match.
In lieu of a second interval to give guys a breather, the live crowd got a dubbed Johnny Impact/Mundo trailer as Boone The Bounty Hunter is being released in Germany soon…
Ambition 9 – Final: Timothy Thatcher vs. Mike Bailey
It all boils down to this – the first trophy of 16 Carat Gold Weekend, and we start with Thatcher charging at Bailey, walking through some slaps as he took Speedball into the corner.
After the break, Thatcher takes Bailey to the mat, but Speedball takes his back as the search for a submission ends with Thatcher grabbing an ankle in a bid to roll Bailey into a half crab. Thatcher’s alert to the kicks, but by the time Bailey’s rolled down, he’s virtually in the ropes. The next flurry of kicks works, but Bailey’s rear naked choke ends… in the ropes.
A back spin kick looked to wind Thatcher as he was knocked down for a nine count, and that gave Bailey an opening… or so it looked, as Thatcher was able to go for an armbreaker attempt, eventually forcing another rope break as Bailey looked to be close to tapping… and it was the next go around that forced the submission as Speedball had to submit.
A star making performance from Timothy Thatcher, who thanked the crowd for their support here, and folks who helped him get this far… before suggesting that it was time to win 16 Carat as the crowd roared. Yep, Timothy Thatcher is over like rover this weekend!
All in, Ambition 9 was a really good show for the style on show. wXw keeps these shows limited to once a year, and it made for a nice palate cleanser in the middle of Carat weekend (and the rest of the associated shows!). If you’re not into the grounded, technical style, this probably won’t have been your cup of tea anyway, but for those who do enjoy it, it was a fun, short show that breezed by.