wXw made their return to America as they took part in their first WrestleMania weekend with an authentic line-up.
The pre-show package loops as I guess there’s tech issues as we loop from that to the WWN Live sting… and finally, we are live as they replay the intro sting in the arena. The few fans that are there are certainly excited. wXw have really pushed the boat out here – they’ve flown over Thommi Giesen to do ring announcing… referees Tassilo Jung, Shooter Schulz & Rainer Ringer are out there too… Jeremy Graves and Sebastian Hollmichel are over on commentary. Heck, there’s even wXw social media buff Chrissi and Dennis with the pre-show playlist! Authenticity is always a beautiful thing. Even if it comes with WWN’s hideous sound mixing and (for some reason) interlaced image.
LAX (Ortiz & Santana) vs. The Crown (Jurn Simmons & Alexander James)
Jurn’s got sparkly new gear for this weekend, as those “Jurn Simmons Sucks” chants made the trip too.
James takes Ortiz down early, as the afro’d one complained of a non-existant hair pull, before a double-team elevated facebuster almost put away James. Jurn comes in as an uppercut has Santana on the ropes, before he began to club away on Santana, taking him into the corner as the Crown looked to wear down the Impact stars. Sebastian Hollmichel on commentary teased that LAX may be looking to get themselves into World Tag Team League in October, and they certainly put on an audition for it here as they went after Jurn with a series of double-teams, finishing with a “Ralph Wiggum-like” headbutt for a near-fall. Jurn’s back with a no-bump suplex as he brought Ortiz in from the apron, before uppercuts from James allowed him to pull Ortiz into a submission that Santana quickly kicked apart.
A double-team suplex from the Crown has Ortiz down, before some choking behind the ref’s back continued to aggravate LAX. Ortiz fires back with a shotgun missile dropkick, before Sanana tagged in and missed an enziguiri. Uppercuts follow as James arm whipped Santana back to the mat, but a superkick cuts him off as James leapt into a hat rack crack (yeah, I broke out a K-Kwik reference). Santana keeps the momentum going until he was lifted to the floor, but he’s back to crack James with a knee from a rewind sunset flip as an Alley Oop sent James flying. From there, a frog splash from Santana almost got the win as Jurn broke it up. Jurn’s involved again, shaking the ropes to crotch Santana on the top rope before the Crown landed a double-team chokeslam for another near-fall.
Ortiz gets tossed outside… and he low bridges Jurn outside as the Crown looked for a decapitation curb stomp… which allowed LAX back in for a rolling cutter, a flying lungblower and a backflip facebuster for the win. A win for LAX then, as The Crown continued their losing ways – hopefully looking to get back on track when they reunite in Germany later in the year. This was a decent opener, and hopefully I’m not reading too much into who won this one as far as Tag League goes. ***¼
Darby Allin vs. Avalanche
Avalanche got a good reaction coming out, which made this feel like a home game for him.
Darby plays “stick and move” with Avalanche early, drawing him outside as the big man was swinging and missing before a lowpe sent the Austrian into the guard rails. Back inside though, Avalanche dumps Darby with a uranage, as the crowd began to chant Shigehiro Irie’s favourite words, “auf die Fresse”. Darby manages to get some space as he began to stick and move on the way to a Code Red for a near-fall, before a flip over Stunner worked… only for Avalanche to crush him with a Samoan drop for another two-count. Allin tries to block a charge in the corner before he leapt over Avalanche as he went to work on the arm, trapping him in a Fujiwara armbar.
Avalanche stands up out of it, as Allin switched up into a sleeperhold… Avalanche just flips him out before a Darkness Falls nearly put Darby away. Another charge into the corner has Avalanche even further ahead, as a fallaway slam dumps Darby towards the corner as the Dreissker Bomb put him away. A lovely, competitive squash, and I’d not be against seeing this again, and again, and again… just for a lot longer match. ***
Yuu vs. Jordynne Grace
It was announced earlier in the day that LuFisto was off the show due to a family emergency… so it was LuFisto’s former Team PAWG partner who replaced her.
Grace took Yuu to the mat early as the crowd ran through their list of Yuu songs, before we settled down as the pair clattered into each other with shoulder charges. A leaping shoulder tackle from Grace did the trick, putting Yuu down before a snapmare and a sliding lariat earned Jordynne a near-fall. Grace tries for a torture rack, only for Yuu to escape and land a spinning sidewalk slam, following quickly with a back senton for a near-fall. Yuu charges into the corner, catching Grace with a back elbow for a two-count, but the PROGRESS Women’s champ fought back with some clubbing lariat-like blows to the back and front of Yuu, following through with a spinebuster for some more near-falls.
Yuu gets thrown into the ring post, shoulder first, as Grace followed in with Wrecking Ball knees and a sliding elbow into the corner, before a Vader bomb out of the corner landed for a two-count. Grace tries to put Yuu away with a pumphandle driver, but Yuu fought out with some chops, before a deadlift slam off the mat took her slightly closer. An attempt at the katahajime follows, but Grace piggy backs and falls on her back to break it up, only to run into a snap judo throw. Grace back body drops out of a piledriver as she looked to grab the finish, catching Yuu with a push down stomp out of the corner. An airplane spin’s next for a two-count as Grace then went back for a pumphandle driver… but again Yuu escaped and stung her with a chop before Grace landed the pumphandle driver for the win. That was a nice, hard-hitting match, and sadly another L for Yuu as she wrapped up her time in wXw. I guarantee some will be “Mad Online” at Grace using Avalanche’s finisher in the very next match though. ***
They shoot the video screen playing a promo before the next match, because WWN still can’t patch in video into a live feed.
wXw Shotgun Championship: Marius al-Ani vs. Emil Sitoci (c)
Sitoci beat al-Ani for this in Frankfurt last week, so here’s the instant rematch. Complete with Emil’s strobey entrance completely pixellating the feed, which makes me miss the wXw Now production.
Sitoci launches into al-Ani at the bell, taking the former champion into the corner… only for al-Ani to fight back with a leapfrog and a dropkick, before catching the Dutchman with a clothesline for a near-fall. A springboard lucha armdrag and a ‘rana from Sitoci takes al-Ani back down as the “Nihilist” looked to be comfortable… only for Marius to come back in with an upkick from the mat. An uppercut from al-Ani’s countered into a backslide, before a pose from Marius led to another backslide as Marius couldn’t help but play to the crowd. We’ve a snap suplex for a two-count from Marius, as the match spills outside, with Emil charging Marius into the ring apron.
Back inside, Sitoci bites away on al-Ani as he looked to stretch him with a grounded abdominal stretch. Some fish-hooking forces a break as Sitoci went back to his old self… except a split-legged moonsault is blocked by al-Ani’s knees, as the former champ fought back… and got clocked in the corner with a lariat. An O’Connor roll from Marius nearly got the win, but from the kick-out he rolls Sitoci into an ankle lock. After getting free, Sitoci hits a fireman’s carry gutbuster, then a top rope elbow drop, before a Snapmare Driver’s blocked. Marius went back to the ankle lock, letting go to land a step-up elbow drop for another near-fall. Some knees from al-Ani miss in the corner, as Sitoci fought back with a suplex/facebuster for a near-fall, before he headbutted Marius in the corner ahead of a Spanish Fly attempt.
al-Ani pushes it away and instead flies back in with a sunset flip, kip-up and an Exploder combination, before a brainbuster found its mark for a two-count. From there, Marius heads back up top, teasing a frog splash, but Sitoci catches him with a superkick before a Spanish Fly connected for the win. Technically, this was sound, but a “heel vs. heel” match perhaps wasn’t the best thing to put on for the first “all-wXw” match of the card. **¾
We get a promo on a video screen again…
David Starr vs. Lucky Kid
Being live means we get don’t have overdubs… and that means the RISE tune!
The crowd’s pro Lucky as the pair lock-up and roll onto the mat as there’s a handful in the crowd taunting Starr with chants of “you’ll never beat WALTER”. Things get a little techy as Lucky proceeded to take down Starr and send him outside before he faked out a dive, as even in New York, we blaaah! Back inside, Starr takes Lucky onto the apron, but a series of body blows sends Starr back to the floow, where he catches a crossbody and slammed Lucky onto the edge of the ring. Dear God. A back suplex drops Lucky on the apron next, before Starr began to light up the 16 Carat Gold winner with chops.
Forearms sent Lucky down as Starr tried to tell the crowd he made WALTER tap… and that self-made distraction nearly cost him. A Han Stansen lariat quickly got Starr back in front, as did the cartwheel kick that clobbered Lucky for another two-count as Starr went back into some ground and pound as he tried to force a stoppage. Tassilo Jung gets surly as Starr tried to read the riot act… but the standing ten count was not to be as Lucky got up and fired back, flipping out of a German suplex before landing a handspring back elbow. Lucky goes for the headscissors/crossface, but Starr escaped and came back with a back elbow of his own, before a lariat dropped Lucky once again.
Lucky tries to head up top, but he’s brought down with a superplex… from where he popped up! The comeback continues with some more body blows from Lucky, but Starr keeps up with chops before a thrust kick staggered Lucky briefly. A half-and-half suplex dropped Starr, but he counters a handspring before landing another Han Stansen, only to run into a powerbomb as Starr somehow remained a step ahead. Starr keeps up the offence with a headbutt, but Lucky shrugs it off and replies with a Shibata-ish headbutt of his own. A small package nearly does it for Lucky, but he’s quickly dumped with an ugly Blackheart Buster for a near-fall… then a powerbomb onto the knee that made me gag a little. Starr picked that moment to chew out Lucky Kid, who just flips him off… as did the crowd, albeit verbally, as Lucky began to be abused with those Han Stansen-like lariats.
Another Han Stansen’s telegraphed though, as Lucky pulls Starr down into a crossface, and counters a counter back into it, before a rebound Sliced Bread has Starr back on the mat. Lucky heads up top as he teases a 450 splash, landing knees-first in Starr, before locking the crossface back in… rolling Starr back into the middle of the ring for the eventual submission! This was sublime stuff as Lucky Kid withstood a beating from a crazed Starr, and came out on top… while Starr’s Bad Months continue in wXw. ****¼
After the match, Starr got the mic and expressed his disgust for the fans for “allowing (WWE) to hijack independent wrestling”. Starr then referred “certain cowards” who couldn’t turn up here, before going all John Oliver on us, ending by dismissing the fans as “being as fake as WALTER is”. This was certainly an incendiary promo from Starr, who’s getting a habit of these. The promo ends as Starr said that since WALTER wasn’t giving him another match, he was quitting wXw. That was a change in direction I wasn’t expecting…
Schadenfreude promo time, but it’s not patched in again, so we see Chris Brookes mock Absolute Andy, while Kyle Fletcher was being rather playful with the “Veteraan”.
Absolute Andy vs. Chris Brookes
So we’ve got the recently deposed wXw champion against the man who’s leading Schadenfreude into the promotion.
Andy stalls before the match, as he almost morphed into a modern-day Larry Zbyszko. Brookes joins him outside as he lit up the former champ with chops, following up with a tope as Andy just couldn’t get going. Brookes leaps onto the guard rail for a nasty double stomp onto Andy, who tries to recover with a powerbomb, only to get stomped in the ring apron instead. Heading back into the ring, Brookes gets the rope kicked into him as Andy took the match back outside, dropping Brookes on the apron with a back suplex… before his search for a count-out was foiled by the fact that the bell hadn’t rung!
With the match underway, Andy took Brookes into the ropes as he dropped an elbow on the lower back, before a chop from Brookes seemed to offend the former champion. More chops follow, as Brookes edged ahead with a back senton, then a brainbuster for a near-fall. Andy hits back with a spinebuster for a two-count, before Andy headed up top… and missed a moonsault?! What was he thinking?! Brookes is right back with a slingshot cutter for a two-count as he almost took the win, before he pulled Andy into a grounded Octopus hold. A rope break saves Andy, who catches Brookes on the top rope with a belly-to-belly superplex for another two-count, before he drilled Brookes with a superkick to counter a springboard. Andy’s offence was for nought though, as he went for the F5… only for Brookes to slip out and catch him with Death By Roll-Up for the win! This was fine, but coming after Starr/Kid, you sensed the crowd were taking a while to get their breath back. ***½
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Work Horsemen (JD Drake & Anthony Henry) vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) (c)
The crowd quickly got on Aussie Open’s case as they came out without their titles… we started with Hendry taking Fletcher into the corner, mocking the “Aussie Arrow” pose, as the challengers found their groove.
JD Drake tags in and whacks Fletcher with a forearm, before Henry returned and lost a suplex battle as Kyle won out. In comes Davis, who starts a chop battle that sent Sebastian back into his native tongue on commentary, before Fletcher returned with a backbreaker for a near-fall. Things turn around when Drake tagged back in briefly, with Kyle taking a nasty neckbreaker as the Work Horsemen were keeping themselves fresh… and Fletcher isolated. A back senton from Drake gets a near-fall, before a snapmare and a kick to the back from Henry kept Fletcher on the back foot. Henry nearly takes the win with a scoop slam off the ropes, before Drake returned and again uncorked some chops as Fletcher was trapped in the wrong corner.
Kyle manages to get free and tag in Davis, who lands his clothesline/chop comeback before a double clothesline had Henry down… but not Drake, as he instead went back for Davis with a chop. BIG LADS CHOPPING! A double clothesline from Drake charged through the Aussies, and that momentum continued as a big splash off the ropes flattened Kyle for another near-fall. Henry’s back with a spinning TKO to Kyle, as a running boot from Drake nearly caused a title change. Things turn around when Henry’s kicked onto Davis outside ahead of a double-team To To Sleep, before Drake was hauled up for the assisted Aussie Arrow for a near-fall. We’re back to those sickening chops as Drake and Davis tried to carve through one another, before a right hand from Drake led to a Parade of Strikes, ending with a punch to Henry and a sit-out side slam from Drake.
Henry heads up again for a double stomp to Davis, before Drake’s moonsault hits… almost leading to a title change after Fletcher had been taken out with a tope on the outside! We continue as Davis gets pelted in the corner… but Drake misses his cannonball, leaving him prey for a sliding punch in the corner from Davis, before Henry leapt into a superkick as a pull-up piledriver and a Fidget Spinner put him away. Excellent stuff – a little weird at times with the split crowd, but the big lads really shone through as Aussie Open secured their first defence. ***¾
Technical issues mean we forgo a promo for the main event…
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Shigehiro Irie vs. Bobby Gunns (c)
These two have had some absolute bangers in wXw last winter, and I don’t expect any different here.
Bobby can’t smoke, but he does get some sweet pyro for his entrance… which pixelates the screen something rotten. The feeling-out process here starts with Gunns looking for a sleeperhold on Irie, who backed him up into the corner, before Irie returned with a bulldog as he set up for that slingshot splash by the ropes. That barely gets a one-count though, as Gunns began to find his way back into the match, standing on Irie’s legs, almost inviting the Ambition winner to strike him from the bottom. It worked too, as Irie rocks Gunns, only to get taken down with a wristlock as he began to weaken Irie’s arm for a Swish armbar… while also trying to neutralise the Beast Bomber lariat.
Gunns takes Irie into the corner, where he’s able to come in with a hanging armbar in the ropes before a diving uppercut off the top finds its mark for a two-count. A single leg crab from Gunns forces Irie to crawl towards the ropes, but a STF delays the challenger’s progress ahead of the eventual rope break. Irie hits back with a forearm as Gunns responds with uppercuts, only to get pulled into a Bossman slam as we almost had a shock title change. Gunns gets pulled towards the corner as Irie headed back up for a big splash that landed with so much impact, Irie flipped over! Another flip followed as Irie clotheslines Gunns, who popped back up as the pair trade German suplexes, leaving Gunns dizzy before he folded up Irie!
Irie responds quickly with a POUNCE, taking Gunns into the corner… and onto the apron as Irie tried to follow up with a powerbomb, only for Gunns to escape with some finger tweaking. A headbutt stops Gunns as Irie went back to the piledriver, which he connected with as the champion was rudely dropped on the edge of the ring. Back in the ring, Irie throws his body at Gunns as he was in the ropes, before a cannonball hit the champion flush for a near-fall. Irie pulls off the elbow pad as he teases a Beast Bomber, but it’s kicked away as Gunns… ended up getting smashed by a flipping Beast Bomber anyway for a solid two-count, as Irie delayed making the cover.
Irie heads up top again, where he’s stopped by a fish-hooking Gunns who stayed on him like a dog with a bone… more small joint manipulation weakened Irie ahead of a nasty superplex. Gunns deadlifts Irie up for a German suplex, but some elbows stop that before Irie captures some limbs ahead of a headbutt. Another Beast Bomber attempt whiffs as Irie dives into an armbar, as Gunns wrestled his way into a Rings of Saturn as Irie had to BITE THE ROPES to get free. Wow.
Both men were looking wobbly as they began to throw forearms and uppercuts, leading to Irie walloping Gunns with a running Fire Thunder Driver. Somehow, Bobby’s still alive, and defiant as they flipped each other off, before a half-nelson suplex was shrugged off by Irie… who then had to block a Swish armbar… but not for long as he got pulled to the mat for the submission. Dear God, this was excellent stuff – something the crowd may not have been all in on, but from my viewpoint, this was just as good as their prior matches in Germany. WATCH. THIS. ****
Post-match, Joey Janela appears as I have very vivid recollections of the Twitter spar between Janela and Gunns on Twitter over 16 Carat Gold weekend. Bobby lights up, as does Joey, who then challenged Gunns to a title match in Germany. Fair enough!
This has to be considered a success for wXw – while some groups could have just put on exhibitions or a throwaway show, Amerika ist Wunderbar was a show that felt authentic to the wXw style, and progressed storylines and gave us a big development in David Starr’s hunt for WALTER. Commentary from Jeremy Graves and Sebastian Hollmichel was splendid, serving to clue-up new fans without patronising long-term fans – which isn’t bad considering English isn’t Sebastian’s first language!
The only blot on the proverbial copybook came in the production side of things, with subpar picture quality, weirdness with promos not being patched in, sound that regularly peaked, and lower thirds that weren’t always on-point – but most of those will be cleaned up for the wXw NOW release, which is something you ought to wait for if you haven’t had a chance to catch it on iPPV.