The odds were stacked against Bobby Gunns as his latest trip to Hamburg saw him face three contenders for his wXw title at once.

Formerly a tour name for wXw back in 2014, this was the promotion’s last major stop before they went on their summer break – and it was a show that threatened some big changes. If you’re looking for random trivia, from last time Drive of Champions hit Hamburg in 2014, only Ivan Kiev remains on the cards.

Rico Bushido and Andy Jackson are on commentary from the Markthalle.

Absolute Andy vs. Lucky Kid
Lucky Kid’s title shot – won at 16 Carat Gold – was on the line here. There’s a nice recap video of “how we got here”, complete with Andy’s smug grin…

Speaking of smug, Andy jumps Lucky Kid as he entered the ring, and it’s one way traffic from the off as Lucky was forced into the ropes with a Sharpshooter. Lucky manages to get back in, as commentary tells us that no matter who wins, they’re cashing in their title shot here while part of me got a huge kick out of ring announcer Verena Fischer stoically announcing the referee’s count as Lucky and Andy were hooking away right in front of her.

Back inside, Lucky had no answer for Andy’s power at first, as he had to turn up the pace to force a way in, landing a missile dropkick to get a near-fall. That segued into an Asai DDT and the Lucky Lock, only for Andy to smash back with a spinebuster as we’re back to square one. Complete with Sharpshooter. Another breakthrough for Lucky sees him whiff on a 450 after Andy pulled himself to the ropes, before an F5 led to a near-fall. Tassilo Jung does his thing by stopping Andy from using the ring bell… then the bell hammer as he we extra vigilant. I’m not used to seeing good officiating.

Lucky manages to hoik up Andy for a death valley driver, before another Lucky Lock crossface… only for Pete Bouncer to pull out Tass. The hell? Pete stays around to distract Lucky, which led to an F5 and an A-Klasse for the win. Lucky Kid got screwed by someone he thought was a brother… and he’s now back to square one, all of that hard work from 16 Carat Gold undone. This was fine for an opener, considering one of the other were wrestling in the main event – but the match was quickly forgotten by the ending. ***¼

Backstage, Bobby Gunns arrives wearing his belt and pulling a wheelie case. He’s complaining about the A1, as we get some local rivalry between the Hamburger Veit Müller and Bremener Gunns. Veit reminds Bobby of his promise of a title shot, complete with a nicely-timed crowd pop.

wXw Shotgun Championship: Avalanche vs. Emil Sitoci (c)
The winner of this enters the main event four-way, and finally Avalanche was getting him some as he hurled Sitoci outside to the Markthalle’s tiled floor early on.

Sitoci’s MO these days is one of aggression though, doing stuff because “he wants to” and not because it’d win him a match. Any crossover there is merely coincidental. Thing is, such a mindset leaves you open as Avalanche took him down with a back body drop and a fallaway slam, before the Dreissker Bomb drew a near-fall.

After a top rope elbow, Sitoci nearly loses to a crucifix roll-up… then decided to roll out so he could grab his title take the cheap count-out. Well, Avalanche gets the win, but the rules state only the Shotgun champion gets the title shot… so this was really smart, even if the Sitoci character is starting to get annoying. **

Backstage, Sebastian Hollmichel is late for an interview with Marius al-Ani, who wants to end Bobby Gunns’ two year-plus unbeaten run in Hamburg. Marius is mad he’s having to be part of a four-way, especially since he felt he deserved a straight-up singles match for the title.

wXw Women’s Championship: Valkyrie vs. Amale (c)
With Toni Storm and Killer Kelly otherwise occupied, we’ve got the “non contracted” half of Superstars’ women’s four way here.

Valkyrie was looking to end this one early, trapping Amale into a series of roll-ups before she got slapped by an insulted champion. There’s a receipt for that, but Valkyrie gets caught in the ropes with a boot as Amale slowly found her footing here. Their many interactions ahead of this match showed, as Amale was able to predict and block kicks from Valkyrie, before a shotgun dropkick sent Valkyrie sailing into the corner.

Amale misses a hip attack as Valkyrie got back into it, taking Amale outside for an eventual dropkick through the ropes. Back inside, Amale came close with a DDT, before Valkyrie rolled out of a Champion Maker… then landed a clonking leg lariat to the head, only to get caught with the Champion’s Maker as Amale picked up the win. This was pretty decent for the time, but I’d like to see a few more faces in the division after the summer break. Just for variety’s sake… **¾

Wheeler Yuta vs. Veit Müller
The story going in was that Veit hadn’t won in Hamburg for wXw, and he was looking to get revenge on Wheeler Yuta to break that streak here.

Needless to say, Veit was over like a mother here, with the crowd hollering his every move. There’s a clubbering lariat to the back of Yuta that knocked him down as Müller began to bust out some suplexes for good measure, before Yuta started to take some shortcuts. The crowd really didn’t like that as the match remained pretty even between the pair, until Veit busted out a nice back body drop.

The crowd got to their feet almost as one to back Veit, who kept in it with a clothesline-come-sleeperhold that Yuta rolled out of, before a Samoan drop nearly caused the shock. A lucha armdrag led to Yuta trapping Veit in a STF, but Müller borrows pages from the Timothy Thatcher and WALTER playbooks to get back in it, before he put Yuta away with an Exploder. A nice, even contest, but in the end the conniving Yuta got his comeuppance as Veit managed to get back to winning ways after his quick loss to Ken Shamrock a fortnight earlier… ***½

wXw’s returning to Hamburg in September for FAN. Tenille Dashwood’s wXw return is the only thing announced thus far…

We then get a video package of Aussie Open getting attacked by WALTER and Ilja Dragunov at Superstars of Wrestling. They’re not here tonight, as instead the Schadenfreude Open Invitational continues without them…

Gauntlet Match for wXw World Tag Team Championship: Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c) vs. vs. RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. The Crown (Alexander James & Jurn Simmons) vs. VollGasteren (Julian Pace & Leon van Gasteren)
We’ve got four matches here – winner stays on and leaves as tag team champions. Can Aussie Open run the division?

The fans chanted for “Schürrle” to be benched. Once the match got going, they didn’t have to wait long, as Jay-FK’s likened Aussie Open to unwanted house guests. Unwanted house guests who arrived, punched out their hosts, and put them away with a Fidget Spinner for the quick first fall. Thanks for coming!

Next out was the RISE pairing of Pete Bouncer and Ivan Kiev, who seemed to be on different pages. Pete was raising the index finger, everyone else… the middles. Not to worry, as the tag champions went after them, taking the fight into the crowd before they began to double-team Kiev in the ring as his partner was gathering his senses. Eventually, Bouncer tagged himself into the match as he tried to assert himself on things while also looking to stick it to Schadenfreude.

In the end though, Bouncer’s aggression backfired on him as he missed a beltshot, and quickly fell to a Fidget Spinner. That’s not the last we’re seeing of Bouncer here, and I’m fully expecting the second half of the year to see either a disintegration or a fall of RISE.

Up next: The Crown… who came through the crowd and attacked Aussie Open from behind. I like sneakiness like that. James spent a good chunk of time wearing down Fletcher, as once again it was the smaller Kyle who was left in there to take the brunt of the offence. Jurn and James did a stand-up job of keeping Fletcher nowhere near a tag, but eventually he was able to get free and bring in Dunkzilla for his chop/clothesline comeback.

Kyle’s quickly back and taking to the skies with a tope, before a Gold Coast Waterslide almost led to the elimination… but Davis ends up on the defensive, with Kyle having to make the fiery comeback, leading to an assisted Aussie Arrow for another near-fall. James breaks up a Fidget Spinner and distracts the ref too, allowing Jurn to hit a low blow, then his curb stomp for the surprise elimination.

Aussie Open are out… or are they?

Our final team is Vollgasteren… plus Tassilo Jung?! Julian Pace dragged out the senior referee to explain what Rainer Ringer had missed. So the decision’s reversed and the Crown lose by DQ instead. Man, the lengths Julian Pace will go to to screw The Crown/avoid facing Aussie Open, eh?

The Crown took out some of their anger on Pace and van Gasteren, but were eventually sent packing before the last two teams broke into a scuffle, going back-and-forth in the ropes as we were back to Kyle on the defensive. Dunkzilla’s boot, along with a One Winged Angel onto a knee puts Pace down as tags became a little bit of a novelty.

When we settled down again, Davis again tried to kick off Pace’s face before he took a springboard Coffin Drop-like fall into Dunky. After Van Gasteren blocked a double-team GTS, the tables looked to turn, only for Pace to be forced into aborting his Best Moonsault Ever as the champions found a way back and put Julian away in short order with another Fidget Spinner. This was a nice combination of matches, but Aussie Open running the table once again underscored the need for fresh blood in the second half of the year – although that WALTER/Ilja feud should keep things ticking well into World Tag Team Festival. ***½

After the match, Kyle got the mic and called out the “superstars” in Ilja and WALTER. He calls them lazy, which prompts Ilja and WALTER to appear via the magic of video screen. Dragunov took shots at Aussie Open for working in smaller venues, while he and WALTER were on the bigger stage. They return the challenge for Shortcut to the Top – an apt name, WALTER feels, given his opinion of Aussie Open.

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Marius al-Ani vs. Emil Sitoci vs. Absolute Andy vs. Bobby Gunns (c)
This isn’t under elimination rules, so Bobby could well lose his belt in Hamburg without taking the fall. Props to Verena for finding a way to shut down the premature “Gunns” chants during the introductions!

Andy tried the fool’s errand of shaking Emil Sitoci’s hand before the bell. Emil… just went outside and sat on the stairs. Well at least he can’t get counted out in a four-way!

All jokes aside, this was a nice and pacey four-way which started with us briefly seeing Emil shed his mopey-ness to come in and drop al-Ani with a moonsault… while Bobby Gunns was making a point of going for a cross armbreaker, only to seemingly hurt his shoulder early in the match when the hold was stomped apart.

Still, Gunns continued, and was thankful for Absolute Andy when he powerbombed away Sitoci’s Spanish fly attempt… but cursed Marius for his belly-to-belly superplex. Things descended into somewhat of a Parade of Moves for a spell, ending when Sitoci crotched al-Ani on the top rope ahead of that Spanish Fly.

Sitoci looked to have it won when he went for a tombstone on Gunns, only for Avalanche to run out and wipe out the Dutchman with a clothesline as those two quickly brawled to the back. So we’re left with a trios match – and one that Andy looked to be bossing, particularly when he was able to F5 the champion onto al-Ani for a pair of near-falls. Things continued to build well, as al-Ani’s ankle lock was countered with a roll-through… right into an Andy superkick, before Gunns’ wacky sit-out Ki Krusher almost got him the win too.

Another F5 looked to aggravate Gunns’ shoulder some more as all three men were seemingly running on fumes, and also working with tunnel vision as everyone seemed to forget about a third man for a while. Gunns manages to find the strength to hit a stacked up German suplex on the former A4, which gave him an opening to roll Andy into the Swish armbar for the submission. This was pretty unpopular in Hamburg for local reasons, but I enjoyed this as a main event. I still wish there was a standalone challenger for Bobby to sink his teeth into – literally and metaphorically! ***¾

After the match, Gunns celebrated his latest win as he basked in the Hamburg crowd’s disapproval… he then took aim at how Absolute Andy “stole” Lucky Kid’s title shot. Surely he should be mad at Pete Bouncer for costing Lucky, no? Bobby called out Lucky Kid and gave him a shot at his title for August’s Shortcut to the Top. Hey Bobby, you got any other ways to upset this crowd, or is that it?

So, Drive of Champions was a pretty solid show from top to bottom, setting up just enough to keep you going over the promotion’s summer break. Sure, on paper, there’s a few things about this show that you could easily have taken a look at and gone “huh?” Such as Lucky Kid putting his title shot on the line and losing it, barely three months after winning 16 Carat Gold… only to get a shot at the end anyway? Or Aussie Open and Amale all but sweeping their respective divisions.

That being said, the autumn tour for wXw gives them a chance to restock the proverbial ponds. While we’ve seen that not every roster addition can be a roaring success, it certainly has been refreshing seeing different faces on these cards. Hopefully that can continue throughout the rest of the year, and especially the upcoming Shortcut to the Top, where you’d have to believe there’ll be some new faces to help fill out the 30-man line-up.