It’s Fan Appreciation Night in wXw as Shigehiro Irie returned to Oberhausen to defend his title in a four-way.
Nick Schreier pinned Alex Duke, Darius & Danny Fray in 9:53 to win the wXw Wrestling Academy Championship (**¾)
Tristan Archer pinned Maggot in 13:12 (***)
Levaniel pinned Zafar Ameen in 5:18 (**½)
Calypso pinned Maria de la Rosa in 8:23 (**½)
Anil Marik, LSG & Elijah Blum pinned Senza Volto, Aigle Blanc & Kohei Kinoshita in 13:25 (***¼)
Fans Are Lumberjacks With Straps Match: Norman Harras pinned Jurn Simmons in 10:16 (**¾)
Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight defeated Icarus & Dover via disqualification in 12:31 – Arrows of Hungary retain the wXw World Tag Team Championships (**½)
Peter Tihanyi pinned LJ Cleary in 15:02 (***)
Shigehiro Irie pinned Laurance Roman, Metehan & Michael Oku in 16:11 to retain the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship (***½)
— If you want to catch this before it’s uploaded to Peacock/WWE Network, head over to wXwNOW.de
After it was skipped in 2022, wXw’s brought back the Fan Appreciation Night… and after the original plan for FAN saw it moved from the wXw Academy in Gelsenkirchen back to Oberhausen… we’re back on familiar ground.
But first, a pre-show… or, in fact, the main event from that afternoon’s wXw Academy show at the Turbinenhalle, to crown a new Academy champion. German commentary comes from Mett Dimassi and a returning Andy Jackson! Long time, no see!
wXw Wrestling Academy Championship: Nick Schreier vs. Darius vs. Alex Duke vs. Danny Fray
This was to crown the inaugural wXw Wrestling Academy champion – a title that replaces the wXw Academy Trophy that Robert Dreissker smashed to smithereens a little over a year ago… and since Oskar’s killing it in Japan right now, he’s not here to challenge for the title, which is legitimately an upcycled old wXw tag team title belt (the last old wXw belt remaining, in fact, which also appeared to be the old wXw Superfight World Championship). Modernity meeting tradition, meeting sustainability and all that!
Fray’s the big man in the match that everyone looked to go after, but it’s Alex Duke who tried to take a shot, only to get waylaid by a clothesline. Danny runs wild in his new gear – very Jerry Lynn-esque – before we had a run-in from Taylor King, who’s over from Australia. The distraction allows Darius and Duke to double-team Fray, rolling him up for a three-count as we’re under elimination rules.
That takes us to the two bad guys trying to double-team Schreier, with Darius coming close off an ushigoroshi. Duke gets involved too, but his back suplex was escaped by Schreier, whose lucha armdrag’s cut-off by Darius, who added a torture rack back cracker to the mix for a near-fall. That looked swish. Unfortunately for Darius, he’s rolled up by a double-crossing Duke for an elimination, as we’re down to Duke and Schreier for the title. Schreier leaps in for a roll-up on Duke, but it’s only good for a two-count as Schreier pushed on… only to get hung up in the ropes as Duke added a double sledge off the top for a near-fall.
Schreier leaps back in with a forearm, then with a pop-up dropkick, before Duke caught him out of the corner… a ripcord’s fought off though, as Nick lands a neckbreaker for a two-count. Duke cuts off Schreier on the top rope, before drilling Nick with a big boot… the ripcord knee’s next, as was a twisting suplex… but Schreier kicks out at two once more! Duke’s beside himself, but goes back to Schreier for what looked like a crack at Axel Dieter Jr’s old Landungsbrücke, but Schreier counters into a DDT, then hit a crossbody off the top rope to win the title. As a four-way elimination, they crammed a lot in here, but it was well executed for what it was – and Nick Schreier’s starting a whole new lineage here. **¾
The main show opens with a promo from Jurn Simmons addressing the Fans Are Lumberjacks With Straps match later tonight – imploring the fans with straps to make Norman Harras suffer like Norman’s made them suffer… before saying FAN 2023 would be the end of Norman Harras. Uh oh.
Dave Bradshaw’s here for English commentary, as usual…
Maggot vs. Tristan Archer
Maggot’s not been on a great run lately – but he’s still found time to mock Tristan Archer’s introduction…
Maggot seemingly tried to pick Archer’s nose to escape a headlock on the mat, as Archer controlled the opening stages, at least until Maggot found an opening to land a Thesz press. A snap suplex after some mounted punches and biting gets a one-count as Archer powders outside, where he’s able to drop Maggot with a uranage onto the edge of the ring in a bid to snatch a count-out win.
Maggot beats the count, but had to make another comeback, scoring with headscissors before a crossbody was caught and turned into a bodyslam. Archer pulls ahead with a back senton as he proceeded to knock down Maggot for a Sharpshooter… only to stomp him in the gut instead. Archer’s elbow drop leads to a Muta Lock – which drew out Baby Allison, who wasn’t fond of her own Baby Exorcism move being used like that. She remonstrates with Archer at ringside, only for Archer to bust out something extremely dated in return. Maggot hits back with clotheslines and a back body drop, before an enziguiri left Archer prone for a crossbody… which this time landed for a near-fall.
Archer’s quickly met with a spear for a near-fall too… but a German suplex gives him an opening ahead of a Northern Lights suplex as Archer was straight-up ripping from Baby Allison’s arsenal. Maggot blocks La Terreur, but couldn’t avoid a discus clothesline… a crucifix nearly pulls out the win for the former Shotgun champion, whose cutter gets pushed off, with another lariat laying him out. From there, a Coup d’Etat lands, and that’s enough for Archer to get the win over a Maggot who didn’t seem that bothered at Baby Allison’s presence, other than him having to stop himself getting shoved into her from the cutter. ***
Post-match, Allison tries to console Maggot, while Dan Mallmann’s interview was mocked by Maggot at first. Maggot tries to paint it off as “peaks and valleys,” but Baby Allison’s pissed at how calm Maggot is. The German subtitles are finding alternatives for Baby Allison’s English, but there’s no translation needed as she slapped Maggot and walked out on him. Definitely trouble in paradise…
Backstage, the Only Friends are ready to “zebralate” wrestling tonight, and thank everyone but Norman Harras as they prepare for their tag title shot later on…
Levaniel vs. Zafar Ameen
With Jurn Simmons and Norman Harras in the lumberjack match later, we’ve got their running buddies up against each other on the undercard…
Ameen’s frustrated early on by Levaniel, whose early crack at a Galactic Facecrusher ends with Ameen rolling outside… Levaniel stays ahead with a bodyslam and an elbow drop, before a suplex dumped Ameen for a two-count. Ameen gets back into it as he wedged Levaniel between the turnbuckles and charged in with a running knee… while a Mirage kick almost put away the former champion. Levaniel’s kept down with a clothesline from there, while a German suplex keeps Ameen on track, before Levaniel made a comeback, scoring with a spinning heel kick, then a discus lariat, before the Galactic Facecrusher took home the win. **½
We get a vignette for Calypso, who tells us her three faces are a part of her, and are a part of her history. Apparently the faces are her true friends, and apparently without them she was nothing… while with them she’s unbeatable.
Calypso vs. Maria de la Rosa
Calypso’s been putting together a run of results lately…
A tense early start has Calypso a little shaken, as a Test of Strength had her take de la Rosa down for some two-counts. De la Rosa looks to get back in, but ran into Calypso’s hanging Dragon sleeper on the top rope, before she got thrown over the top to the floor. Calypso’s dropkick off the apron keeps things on the outside for a while… and she remains on top as things returned to the ring. De La Rosa takes a running dropkick in the corner for a near-fall, before a boot and a legdrop almost put Calypso away. Calypso returns with the Three Amigos, but the third one’s stopped as de la Rosa hit back with a German suplex instead. A leaping stomp nearly puts Calypso away, only for Calypso to respond with a rebound German suplex, then a Fisherman suplex for the win… despite de la Rosa looking to kick-out. **½
Backstage, LSG, Anil Marik and Elijah Blum are thanking the fans ahead of their trios match – with Anil Marik still looking for his first win back since injury…
LSG, Anil Marik & Elijah Blum vs. Frenchadors (Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto) & Kohei Kinoshita
This was the first time Senza Volto has been seen in wXw since True Colors… and he’s out without a mask here, having refused Aigle Blanc’s offer back then.
We open with Aigle and LSG, as the opening flurries yielded no clear advantage as they went tit-for-tat before tags bring us to Kinoshita and Marik… then to Blum and Volto. Senza stuck to his trademark stuff early on, only to get caught with a crossbody from Blum… he recovers with a springboard armdrag to Blum, before we got an avalanche of armdrags from all six men. Kinoshita and the Frenchadors get sent outside as we teed up for some dives… we’re back inside with the Frenchadors isolating Blum in their corner. Kinoshita gets in on the act too, holding Blum by the ropes for Aigle’s flying back senton. Marik’s back to clothesline away on Kinoshita, but Aigle tagged in as Marik had to keep chipping away, only to get rolled down for kicks from the former tag champions.
Senza and Aigle combine on Marik for a spell, with Aigle dropkicking LSG and Blum off the apron as the luckless Marik looked to be on course for another loss. Miscues buy Anil time though, as he’s able to make the tag out to LSG, who waffled Aigle with a rolling elbow before a rolling thunder clothesline nearly put Senza away. A springboard from LSG’s blocked by Kinoshita, as LSG finds himself on the wrong side of a bridging fallaway slam that nearly won it for Kinoshita. A Parade of Moves breaks out from there, featuring a Parting Gift from Blum, a handspring cutter from Volto… and a facebuster from LSG. Marik almost got the win after a triple powerbomb on Kinoshita, before dives on the outside led to Senza Volto almost putting away Marik with a moonsault… more dogpile pins follow, before Aigle Blanc seesaw’d out of a Code Red and managed to upset Senza Volto! This got very high tempo by the end, ensuring the rule of “no trios matches are awful” stayed alive! ***¼
Senza Volto sold the loss with disbelief, knowing his name was the first one Anil Marik had beaten since returning from injury… and eventually shook hands with everyone afterwards. All is not what it seems with Senza after he’s lost his mask…
They recap the recent weeks with Jurn Simmons and Norman Harras, featuring Levaniel and Zafar Ameen…
Fans Are Lumberjacks With Straps: Norman Harras vs. Jurn Simmons
This is a “the match is what it says” stipulation – it’s a lumberjack match, with the fans having been given leather straps… and hopefully some guidance! After Norman gloated that nobody had stepped forward, Lumber-Levaniel comes out with those fans, and yes, they are fans – regular watchers will recognise a few of them… especially since referee Rainer Ringer was one of the lumberjacks!
We got going with Jurn putting a beating to Harras, leading to a stalling suplex as Jurn was almost teasing Harras to slip out to the floor before Norman took the landing. Harras tries to throw Jurn to the outside, but Simmons put on the brakes before he got cradled… then raced back in with a spear. Ah, don’t pin Norman yet Jurn! Harras gets thrown onto the apron, fighting to avoid the floor like he was in Shortcut to the Top or something… Jurn’s taken from corner-to-corner ahead of a kick to the back from Harras, which just woke up Jurn… a Samoan drop nearly goes awry for Norman, who’s thrown across the ring by Jurn in response.
Elbow drops from Harras keep Jurn down as the lumberjacks were being kept to observers here… before a Finlay roll looked to have Norman on his way to the win. Harras tries for a piledriver, but Jurn escaped and hit back with a spinebuster. Jurn’s caught on the top rope with a superplex, before Harras clotheslined Jurn to the floor. The lumberjacks swarm… but they just pick up Jurn and help him back into the ring…
A back body drop sends Norman to the outside, but his ideas of similar treatment were immediately dashed as the fans gave him a good ol’ whipping. Rolling back in didn’t give Harras much safety though, as Jurn goes for a piledriver… only for Metehan to appear on the stage to distract Jurn. Zafar Ameen comes through the crowd to throw powder in Hurn’s eyes, allowing Harras to score with a running uppercut for the win. Even though the referee’s count was all in the previously-not-there powder… ah well. We weren’t ever going to get the fans laying a whipping to Norman, but the crowd were largely silent until they got that. **¾
Post-match, Levaniel challenged Norman Harras to a strap match at Drive of Champions in June… before the ringside medics rinsed the eyes of the blinded Simmons.
The Rotation thanks the fans via a pre-tape… and announces that, having recovered from injury, he’ll be back wrestling next month at Drive of Champions.
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Only Friends (Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight) vs. Arrows Of Hungary (Dover & Icarus) (c)
Only Friends beat the AMBOSS team of Icarus and Laurance Roman in Hamburg a week earlier to get this shot…
Robert Dreissker at ringside got a little annoyed at the crowd singing happy birthday to him, and we started with the Arrows of Hungary attacking their challengers from behind. The bell goes with Gunns peppering Icarus with kicks, before Knight helped with a double team while he was checking his teeth. Kicks knock Icarus to the floor, while Dover ate a Knight springboard dropkick as the challengers had the better of the opening moments… epitomised by a dive by Knight before we’d even hit the minute marker. Back inside, Knight slows it down with an armbar on Icarus, before he had to outsmart an attempted blindside attack from Icarus… only to get beaten down on the floor by Dover and the birthday boy Dreissker.
A wacky double-team back suplex earned Dover a two-count on Knight, who then found himself isolated in the Arrows’ corner. Rule-breaking from the Arrows was exacerbated by Bobby Gunns’ protestations distracting the ref, before Knight finally found a way in with a sunset flip… only for Icarus to snap back with a Sky High powerbomb for a near-fall. More AMBOSS shortcuts leave Knight down as Icarus picked his shots, but Knight finally manages to forge an opening… and made the tag out to Gunns, who was a house afire as both Arrows remained in the ring. A shotgun dropkick wipes out Icarus, before Gunns went corner-to-corner on the champions.
Gunns misses a PK aimed at Dover, but had more luck with an enziguiri, only for Dover to catch Gunns and charge into an Icarus kick in the corner. Icarus follows in with a launched cannonball, then an Alabama Slam/kick for a near-fall before Knight made a save… only to get kicked away by Dover. A tag brings Knight back in again as Icarus gets double-teamed by the challengers, leading to a springboard clothesline-aided German suplex for a near-fall… and with things looking dicey, Icarus just hits a low blow to Gunns in front of the referee for the DQ. This one never felt like it truly got going, and AMBOSS taking the easy way out is surely going to lead to a rematch with a stipulation tied to it, unless we’re saving the Only Friends for tag festival? **½
LJ Cleary vs. Peter Tihanyi
Originally set as part of the Tihanyi/Tischer series, the Axeman’s injury meant that Tihanyi needed a new opponent… and it led to a wXw return for LJ Cleary and his ear-worm of a theme.
Headscissors and escapes set the tone early on, as did shoulder tackles, with the pair kipping up coming out of it. Cleary’s backed into the corner, but intimated his eyes had been raked on the way, as Tihanyi proceeded to push ahead, chopping Cleary down before he bounced him into the corner with an Irish whip… only for LJ to return fire with a dropkick for a two-count. Heading outside, Tihanyi asks the crowd to move… but a switcheroo sees LJ land an apron PK before taking things back inside. Cleary takes Tihanyi into the buckles, but he’s perhaps slowed the pace too much and that opened the door for Tihanyi to turn it up a little… shooting the Irishman into the ropes ahead of an eventual double clothesline.
We’ve a back body drop from Tihanyi after they both got back up, then a swinging DDT, before Cleary blocked a slingshot cutter… and rolled up the Hungarian for a near-fall. Tihanyi has a roll-up of his own for a similar result, before a crack at the SummerSlam 92 finish nearly put LJ away. An Asai DDT from Tihanyi, then a running Meteora keeps it in Peter’s favour, before LJ countered a second running Meteora into a Boston crab. Tihanyi overpowers the hold, but a double stomp from Cleary, then a diving kick almost got him the win as we’re back to the pair trading strikes… Cleary’s knocked outside for a swift dive from Tihanyi, who added a slingshot cutter for the win. This match was kind of indicative of the whole show so far – it had some promise, but things just didn’t come together on the night for me. ***
Shigehiro Irie thanks the fans via a pre-tape – and shows off some German to boot… しばくぞ!
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Michael Oku vs. Metehan vs. Laurance Roman vs. Shigehiro Irie (c)
This one was originally Oku taking on Irie for the title in the former’s debut – but recent events meant that Metehan and Laurance Roman finagled their way into the match. Everyone’s apparently banned at ringside, although that thankfully didn’t impact the camera crew…
Metehan and Oku pair off, as do Irie and Roman as we started in the corners, before the focus shifted onto Oku, who was taking a kicking as Irie had been sent outside… things break down between Metehan and Roman pretty quickly though, allowing Oku back in with a tijeras to Roman, then a dropkick, before a springboard dropkick knocked Irie off the apron. Roman kicks away a half crab, with Oku getting pulled outside and into the path of an Irie clothesline as Metehan ran in to try and beat Roman with a crossface. Irie comes in and baits Metehan into taking Roman to the ropes, so he could hit a rebound splash on the Shotgun champion… before a slam and a Teddy Bear splash squashed Metehan for a two-count.
Roman runs in, but got rolled up by Irie as the switcheroo brings Oku back in with running dropkicks to Roman, then Irie for good measure. Irie picks up Oku for extra ballast on a cannonball to Roman in the corner. Metehan’s back to hit a Final Cut on Oku, only to miss a sliding punch as Oku looked to retaliate with a half crab… only to slingshot Metehan into Roman. Irie clotheslines Metehan to the floor as we’re left with Irie and Oku… and you’ve got a noticeable chant for Oku here. The pair trade strikes, with Irie’s elbow earning him an overhead kick from Oku… before he got popped up into a gnarly Samoan drop. Roman and Metehan return to try and spoil the party, but things clear out back to Oku and Metehan once more, with Metehan’s clotheslines looking to steer him to a win.
Oku fires back up with elbows before he got laid out with a Metehan knee… but a superkick and a misdirection knee strike has Metehan laid out. Oku can’t make the cover though, so Irie comes in to try and pick apart the pieces, but Metehan gets rid of Irie and Roman once again, only to get met with a springboard crossbody to the head. OW. Oku sets the crowd going for a Fosbury flop to Irie and Roman on the outside – and kudos to the Oberhausen crowd for getting the Icelandic clap going on the first go! Back inside a froggy crossbody nearly puts Metehan away, before a half crab was broken up by Roman, who threw Oku outside. Roman’s facebuster to Metehan nearly steals the win as Irie dives in to break up the pin…
Irie grabs Oku and launches him over the top to Metehan on the outside… leaving Roman all alone as a big splash off the top from Irie landed in the knees. Metehan’s back to steal a pin, but Oku breaks it up, before Irie’s crossbody wiped out Roman and Metehan at the same time. Oku’s back, but leaps into a Roman uppercut, before a sit-down splash from Irie… then a piledriver on Metehan onto Roman finally cleared the ring. From there, Roman’s cannonballed in the ropes, before a Beast Bomber laid him out for the win, with Metehan and Oku inadvertently stopping each other from breaking up the cover. Michael Oku definitely got over on his debut, but the win wasn’t to be for him on this night as Shigehiro Irie marked his Oberhausen return with a successful defence. ***½
Post-match, Oku and Irie shook hands – and seemingly agreed to a rematch… but first, Irie’s got to get past Luke Jacobs in London, then Mike D in Oberhausen at Drive of Champions next month!
All in all, FAN wasn’t a bad show – but it’s one that perhaps highlighted some problems with creative decisions that led to a rather muted crowd throughout the show. A show that sadly never felt like it clicked – even if it was one that continued to lay the groundwork for bigger events in the future. Bigger events in future that hopefully involve Michael Oku, whose debut really did seem to click!