A new year for wXw saw them hit the ground running, with the third annual Käfigschlacht cage match as they went Back to the Roots.

Christian Jakobi and Emil Sitoci are doing the English language call from the world famous (or at least, it should be) Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen.

Hardcore Match: Martina vs. Melanie Gray
This came about after Melanie Gray attacked Martina before the Women’s Championship tournament final last month… of course, Melanie lost the final to Killer Kelly, so we’ve got this diversion before Gray’s can even dream of getting a shot at the title.

Melanie Gray’s out with a bullhorn – the new Anti-Fun Police member, eh? She’s also got a new t-shirt, protesting her treatment last month… Martina gets chants of “beer” as she charges into Gray from the off, taking the former Diva into the corner for a series of forearms… but Gray escapes, only to run into a cross body from Martina, who gets a near-fall out of it. Gray rolls outside, and has plenty of time to recover as Martina winds herself running the ropes… but the Oberhausen crowd know what to do: beer!

By the time she’s had a swig, Melanie’s found a chair and whacks Martina’s dive away as the match heads outside and into the crowd, where Gray chokes Martina with her own hair. Keep it short, eh? The Session Moth reverses an Irish whip to send Gray into the ringpost, then suplexes her onto the front row. Hey, they held up!

Martina goes under the ring for some chairs, but she took too long to climb the ropes and Gray uses a chair against her as the comeback started, with some chair shots thrown in for good measure. No, Oberhausen, beer can’t save you from chairs… still, Martina’s able to rebound as she throws chairs at Gray again, setting up for a Shibata-like dropkick through a chair. A running knee gets Martina a near-fall, but she’s back for some beer (or was that a shandy), and that gave Gray enough time to rebound with a spear for a two-count of her own. Gray heads under the ring for a bag of thumbtacks, and spreads them on the canvas as she tries to plant Martina into them… eventually succeeding with a Finlay roll. Yikes…

Next up is a table, as Gray carefully places Martina across it… but Martina gets up as Gray’s on the top rope, and things are about to go from bad to worse as a superplex sent Mella through the hardware – catching some of those stray tacks on her landing as well for a near-fall. Another chair follows from Martina, but Gray boots it into her face, before she misses a senton bomb… Martina takes advantage with a Seshbreaker onto the remains of the chair, and Martina gets the win! A hard fought win for the Session Month, and a defeat that’s sure to increase Gray’s descent into madness as she gets further away from that wXw women’s title. **¾

Next up, we’ve got a live Raucherpause (Smoking Break) with Bobby Gunns. Christian Jakobi translates as much as he can as we go along, including the gem of a line that “everyone thought that Bobby was a little shit”. He’s interrupted by the new entrance video for Absolute Andy, who’s one-upped Bobby by smoking a cigar… because he’s a “real man” and a “veteran”. Cue a LOT of back-and-forth, with plenty of hot fire, which led to the two going head-to-head, before Gunns just spat at him and left. Somewhere in this, a match between the two was announced for later on, with the Shotgun title not on the line.

An interesting pairing, and an interesting reaction from the Oberhausen crowd too.

Jurn Simmons vs. Dirty Dragan
Jurn’s got new gear, and while he looks to have leaned up a little, he’s cut out all that gyrating, while Dirty Dragan’s gear seems to be inspired by a mermaid. He’s got an entire section of fans backing him, and boy, he’s probably going to need them…

So, how long would Dragan last? Would it be measured in seconds? Would it be elf, or perhaps zwölf?

From the off, Dragan was sent flying with a Beele throw, but Jurn’s not pouncing on him, and it led to Dragan having enough confidence to try a backslide. Yeah, that’s not happening. Jurn does get low-bridged to the outside for a flying Tomahawk chop from Dragan… but Dragan takes too long to follow up and he’s sent spilling to the floor courtesy of a superkick. Simmons follows with some Doctor bombs as he methodically broke down Dragan, but somehow he’s able to kick out!

Dragan’s even able to mount a fight back with a top rope ‘rana… what the hell?! Elbows and punches follow as Dragan tries to make the most of his puncher’s chance, which quickly ends with a Massive boot… but Jurn pulls up Dragan after hitting a piledriver, as he wants to make a point. Simmons nonchalantly trips Dragan, then pulls him into a Rings of Saturn as a frothing Dragan’s saved by the ref. Exactly what this needed to be – a one-sided squash, with a little bit of hope for Dirty Dragan. **¼

After the match, Jurn does his thing with a Kendo stick, and whacks Dragan across the back with it, a la Alexander James and David Starr. Perhaps spitting on Jurn’s gut wasn’t such a good idea…

Da Mack vs. Chris Colen
The battle between the first and the most recent RISE member follows, as Da Mack returned to the site of his betrayal.

Mack took the first shot, but his slap’s met with some clotheslines from Colen, as the Austrian asserted his size and power advantage over the Urban German. Some double-handed chops from Mack look to give him a way back, but Colen’s firmly in control after a huge back body drop and a long stalling suplex… only for Mack to kick out at one! The tables turn a little when Colen’s sent outside, and met with a running PK off the apron… but Colen’s right back in it, taking Mack down with a double axehandle smash for a near-fall. Loud chops keep the Austrian Wolverine on top, but Mack’s speed helps him take Colen down for a vicious knee to the head.

Some rough-housing from Mack help him keep the bigger Colen grounded, and in place for a modified grounded abdominal stretch as he tied his foe up in knots. Colen’s able to easily escape with a hiptoss, but another Mack knee puts him back in control as Colen pounded the mat out of frustration. Mack’s not showing any urgency as he tore apart Colen… and that looked to be an undoing as Colen kept fighting back… but yet again, that knee to the face resets things and puts Mack back in the driving seat once more. Albeit briefly, as Colen comes back with a flapjack before heading up top for a diving elbow to put Mack down for a two-count.

A Slingblade from Mack leads to him getting send outside, where a spinning back kick rocked Colen… only for Mack to springboard back in and into a uranage as Colen came closer to victory. Colen keeps up with a backdrop to take Mack outside ahead of a tope as Mack tried to swing momentum his way… of course it doesn’t work, and Colen signifies that he’s going to break RISE… and promptly dumps Mack with another uranage!

Colen takes too long climbing the ropes, and Mack again catches him with a top rope ‘rana, before popping the Austrian up for the Mack Magic (Ace crusher), which finally puts Colen away. Decent enough, with a slow and methodical pace throughout as the high-flying, fast-paced Mack seems to be a thing of the past – for now. ***

Bobby Gunns vs. Absolute Andy
Gunns is jumped on the stage during his entrance, as Andy began by wiping out the Shotgun champion with his own title belt. Unlike on Shotgun this past week, there’s no “Obsolete Andy” chants as Oberhausen are firmly behind the veteran.

In the ring, Tassilo Jung refused to count a pinfall because the bell hadn’t rung… when he did ring it, Andy went straight for the F5, but Bobby kicks out, only to get knocked straight back down as the veteran looked to keep the upper hand. To his credit, Andy cheats so we know who to boo… but someone in the crowd (“Opa Gerd”) lends a hand. For crying out loud, you’re meant to boo the bad guys, not help them!

Tas athletically kicks away Andy’s next effort at cheating, by grabbing the ropes, and eventually Gunns hiptosses his way to freedom… only to run into a backbreaker and a clothesline that dumped him outside. Well then, it seems that Andy’s few months off sulking away from Marius al-Ani has helped him come back fully recharged.

The pair brawl around the front row, which Andy again edges out on, but Gunns optimistically tries to come back with a German suplex off the apron. It’s blocked as he and Andy trade shots on the apron, before Bobby catches a punch and turns it into an arm whip, dumping Andy onto the apron. Gunns tries for the hanging armbar as Andy continued to outclass him… he eventually gets it for a couple of seconds, and that looks to be the turning point as Gunns started to go to work on Andy’s arm, targeting it with stomps and armbreakers… but Andy again counters, landing a back cracker to stem the tide.

Commentary asks if Gunns is being outclassed… or has he just been caught off guard? When he’s back to targeting the arm, Gunns is in control, and even gets in a finger snap to the veteran… who replied with a vicious lariat. Andy’s age looked to start to become a factor as he takes too long climbing the ropes, which led to him taking a superplex as the pair went back to trading blows. The Gunns comeback continued with him getting sent into the middle turnbuckle with a Flatliner, then again with a dropkick to the back of the head, before he worked over into a grounded double armbar, a la Zack Sabre Jr, but Andy’s able to crawl to the ropes for freedom.

Regardless, Gunns just pulls him away and into a cross armbreaker, before Andy powered back with a spinebuster. Andy tried to follow up with a moonsault, but he crashes and burns, only to reply with another spinebuster… which Gunns countered on impact with the cross armbreaker! It’s eventually broken when Andy powerbombed his way free, before going for the F5… but Gunns switches back into the cross armbreaker, trapping Andy in the middle of the ring.

That cross armbreaker’s broken again as Andy came back with yet another F5, sparking the crowd to get behind Gunns… even more so when Andy headed outside for his wrench! He goes for the bell hammer as well, but Tas easily disarms him, before catching him with the wrench again. You have to appreciate a referee who’s on the ball as Tas is here, especially compared to the laundry list of referees whom incompetence may well be their middle name!

After the dis-arming, Gunns catches Andy in yet another cross armbreaker, which gets punched away… as Andy goes back to the wrench. He‘s got it in hand as he’s caught in a guillotine, with a Kimura disarming the veteran… only for Gunns to escape another F5 and eventually nail a German suplex. Out of nowhere though, Andy’s back with a superkick, bringing back memories of World Tag Team League, and that’s enough to put away the Shotgun champion!

This was a weird one – from the off, Andy absolutely overwhelmed Gunns, and although Bobby’s resistance was enough to force Andy to use underhanded tactics, the difference in class told in the end. A valiant showing from Gunns, who found that 2018 perhaps wasn’t going to feature as many wins over veterans as the prior year… ***¾

wXw Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Killer Kelly (c)
Storm won the Femmes Fatales tournament over World Tag Team League weekend to get this shot – against a Killer Kelly whom had been characterised as a bit of a “fluke champion” on Shotgun going into this.

On paper, there’s a real gulf in class between these two, at least in terms of where they’ve worked, but this would be a massive test for anyone’s first title defence. The Oberhausen crowd were initially behind Toni Storm, but Kelly had some vocal fans too, who watched on as she took Storm down with a big boot at the bell. Storm replies in kind as this match went outside to keep up the typical intensity of Kelly’s matches… problem was, Storm was dishing out the punishment as some chops and uppercuts took Kelly into the front row before a missed hip attack took the Aussie into the second row.

Kelly takes advantage with some kicks and forearms as Toni stayed in the crowd, but she then returned to break the count as she looked to lay Storm out with a PK off the apron. A second one’s caught and turned into a leg sweep as Toni’s back with chops, before finally connecting with that hip attack as those front row seats are getting abused. Back in the ring, Kelly takes a suplex into the corner before she avoids a hip attack, returning fire instead with a dropkick. Storm stops Kelly in the ropes and powerbombs her back into the corner because damnit, she’s doing that hip attack. A neckbreaker slam and a Mark Haskins-like armbar follows, but Kelly’s able to get her feet to the ropes for a break.

Storm tries for her Strong Zero piledriver, and instead gets countered with a German suplex, then a Northern Lights and finally another German, with Kelly bridging it for a near-fall. Toni heads outside for a breather, but it’s not exactly a safe space as Kelly goes airborne, sending Toni crashing into some poor bugger’s knee with a crossbody off the top!

Inside again, Kelly nearly eked out the win with a strait-jacket German suplex, but a high kick misses as Toni snaps in with a Strong Zero, and we’ve got a new champion! Pretty short, but this was a whole lot of fun for the time they had – Kelly definitely didn’t look outclassed here, but in the end Toni’s experience paid off. A disappointing end to Kelly’s first run, but a rematch could well be on the cards… ***½

We cut away from that to Toni Storm by the commentary area – she’s rather breathlessly talking about her match as they set up the cage in the background. Toni said she felt like she could have lost it, but massively put over the dethroned Kelly in the meantime.

Die Käfigschlacht: RISE (“Bad Bones” John Klinger, Ivan Kiev & Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) vs. Monster Consulting (Julian Nero & Avalanche) & RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher
This wXw’s equivalent of War Games, except there’s just the one ring. We start with one man from each side, and then they alternate entrants. The only way to win is by submission, and only once all eight men have entered.

“Bad Bones” John Klinger and WALTER get us underway, with the pair more than willing to take the fight to each other. WALTER took Klinger down early with a butterfly suplex, before Bones replied with a German suplex as he flung the Austrian into the cage wall. Of course, the favour’s returned as WALTER turfed Klinger into the cage. An attempted flying lungblower is caught by WALTER, as he slingshots Bones into the cage, then followed up with a seated splash as the RINGKAMPF leader seemed to be having the best of the initial five-minute period.

Commentary drops hints at how RISE look to have been malfunctioning as of late, and as the crowd sang the RINGKAMPF entrance theme the beatdown of Klinger continued until the clock ticked down for the arrival of… Ivan Kiev!

So we’ve got two minutes of two-on-one for WALTER, but with Klinger originally being on the mat, it’s pretty straightforward for WALTER, who launched Kiev into the cage, only for the former Shotgun champion to come back with a leg lariat. The handicap continued from there as Klinger and Kiev made light work of der Ringgeneral, throwing him into the cage wall, before the numbers were evened up with the introduction of one of two Käfigschlacht ever-presents – Julian Nero.

Nero’s coming out all guns blazing, taking down Kiev and Klinger with a diving double knee, before using the Wasteland to throw Kiev into the cage wall. RISE have the cage used on them as a weapon for the rest of that two minute period until they got reinforcements in the form of Lucky Kid, who quickly went in to trip Nero… before he had to deal with a sleeperhold and an attempt at the RINGKAMPF German suplex, eventually countering it into a tornado DDT.

Lucky Kid and Klinger double-team WALTER, raking his face against the cage wall… and despite an attempt to break free, the Austrian was left on the mat until the arrival of his RINGKAMPF partner Timothy Thatcher. Of course, Timmy’s straight in with uppercuts and suplexes as Oberhausen kept on singing Symphony Number 9. Fired up Timothy Thatcher is the best Timothy Thatcher!

RINGKAMPF work together to decimate RISE, with double-team chops to all three members firmly turning the tide… but the time runs out as Tarkan Aslan became the last member of RISE to join the fray. By the time Aslan got to the ring, Thatcher was somehow caught between the cage and the ropes, giving Aslan an easy shot or two as RISE again took control… as they always had been the case when they had the numerical advantage. But there was still one man left – and he was the man whom had been the deciding factor in both previous Käfigschlacht, including the first one where he injured his shoulder….

Yes, it’s Avalanche!

Now all eight men are in the ring, the cage door is locked… just as Avalanche tore through RISE with clotheslines! Klinger tries to stem the tide, but he’s taken into the corner with a body splash, before Kiev’s attempt to make a save earns him a Beele throw into the corner. Pete Bouncer appears as Avalanche took down both Young Lions with a stacked up Samoan drop, and it seems that Bouncer had given “Bad Bones” a chair… as Klinger flew off the cage with a chair shot to Avalanche to finally stop the big man.

Both Avalanche and Timothy Thatcher were bleeding from all of this, with RISE looking to be edging ahead thanks to the presence of some help from that chair… but some teamwork from the good guys turned things around, with Nero landing a flying knee off the top onto Aslan as WALTER and Avalanche set up Klinger for…a Doomsday Device?! Good Lord, the big men fly!

The bloodied Avalanche grabs WALTER in a camel clutch, evoking his past two wins here, but Pete Bouncer starts to climb the cage, distracting everyone else who tried to neutralise him. RISE took advantage, with Kiev’s ‘rana off the top rope taking WALTER down, but the match remained extremely fluid until Klinger slung a chair at Nero’s knee. A Circle of Life – clothesline-assisted German – from the Young Lions left Nero down, before Bouncer bullied a ringside attendant into giving him the key to the padlock, as Bouncer unlocked the cage door, just so he could whack it into Thatcher’s head. WALTER gets the same treatment, as the match spills outside, but RISE try the trick once too often as Bouncer ends up smashing the door into Bad Bones’ head!

The ring’s left with Monster Consulting in there against just Bad Bones, and they looked to be coasting as the Final Consultation (double-team Go To Sleep) is followed up by a short-arm clothesline as Bones is forced into a camel clutch, while WALTER, Nero and Thatcher held the cage door shut. In among all that, Ivan Kiev broke free and climbed the cage behind them all, returning with a cannonball senton to help break everything up.

RISE return with some weapons in the form of chains, Kendo sticks and chairs, and now it’s going to get brutal. Aslan wields the stick, notably whacking Thatcher in the head with it, before using a chair to choke away on the tag team champion. Suddenly, Bad Bones heads outside as he gets into an argument with Bouncer… the rest of RISE have to separate them, but they put that aside as they go after Avalanche, taking him onto the stage for an attempted four-on-one beating… ending with a chairshot to the Austrian’s head.

Eventually the rest of his partners join them on the stage as RISE set up a table, but Kiev’s doing a good job of keeping guard with weapons before they pull off a quadruple-team powerbomb to put Avalanche through the table. That ended up being the catalyst as WALTER broke free to continue the fight on the stage, as the match was slowly brought back towards the ringside area, with a spot of “Klinger getting thrown into the chairs” for fun.

Finally Nero takes Lucky Kid into the ring as they looked to finish things, but an overhand chop to the chest from Lucky just pissed off Nero some more as he hits Wasteland in the middle of the ring, before the King Kong knee drop misses. Tarkan Aslan returns to help double-team Nero, using a chair for the Circle of Life to Nero before wrecking that chair on Thatcher.

WALTER pulls aside Thatcher as Lucky Kid hits his own man as the tide swings again, with a powerbomb into the cage wall getting rid of Ivan Kiev as Lucky Kid and John Klinger use mule kicks to break up some sleepers. A pair of crossfaces from Lucky and Klinger see them try to get the submission, but Kid switched into a triangle armbar that WALTER easily powerbombed out of as commentary noted that Avalanche had been taken to the back.

Pete Bouncer gets involved again as he slides another table into the ring, which looked to be set up for something involving Thatcher… but WALTER makes the save as Thatcher escaped and instead pulled Kiev into a rear naked choke, which was broken when Kiev crashed through a table. Straight from there, WALTER’s pulled into the Rebel lock crossface from Bones, and despite looking to tap, WALTER’s able to counter into a rear naked choke… which gets turned back into the crossface.

WALTER escapes again and nails a powerbomb, before sinking in another rear naked choke to Klinger, whose only help left was in the form of Pete Bouncer… but Avalanche is back to neutralise him, just in time for Bones to tap out! While not the massively bloody war of last year, this was a typically tense and hard-fought encounter, and a fine way to start 2018! ***¾

Another monumental loss for RISE, as those cracks appear to be widening, which has to raise questions over how long they’ll be able to last – questions I’m sure will be raised starting on Shotgun this week!

Back to the Roots was a solid opening to the new year for wXw – with the heavy focus being placed on storyline development here with some good wrestling inbetween there. You had the continuation of RISE’s problems… the establishing of Absolute Andy as something more than the curmudgeon he’d been portrayed since the A4 split… and of course, the progression of Melanie Gray’s woes as she picked up another defeat.

Next up for wXw is Dead End in Hamburg in a couple of weeks’ time, which was already announced as being headlined by Bad Bones defending his wXw title against “Speedball” Mike Bailey, and then it’s the small matter of 16 Carat.