The first half of wXw’s Fan Appreciation Night played out in front of Das Powercrowd, with Zack Sabre Jr. providing a stiff test for Absolute Andy’s title reign.
There had been some changes to the card, with Toni Storm being pulled days before the show – prompting wXw to strip her of her title due to injury. Hamburg would play host to a three-way contender’s match, with the winner facing Alpha Female for the vacated title, while Jack Sexsmith was pulled from the tour due to a family emergency… meaning that David Starr would need a new tag team partner for his scheduled match with RINGKAMPF. Holy crap, we’ve a three-man commentary booth: Rico Bushido, Andy Jackson and Alan Counihan!
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) (c)
Jay-FK got this shot by talking their way into getting “a fair chance” at the belts “they never lost”… and they jump the champions as they came out, much to the delight of the Hamburg crowd. Yes, I’m being ironic.
Monster Consulting quickly hit back as they charged Jay FK into each other, with Avalanche – and his fancy new singlet – being a one man wrecking crew. The champions looked for the Final Consultation early, but Jay Skillet makes a save, and it’s the challengers who find themselves on top as a double stomp flattens Nero en route to a two count. Skillet keeps Nero grounded, putting some boots to him while isolating the career consultant by fair means or foul. Nero tries to fight back, but Skillet keeps on with those boots and manages to get a pinning attempt… so many, in fact, that Jay seemed to get frustrated… and Kaspin perhaps a little more desperate. Eventually Nero manages to get free, tagging in Avalanche, which led to a fantastic “chickenshit” sell of fear from Skillet, as he had to cash those cheques his mouth had been writing.
Avalanche uses Skillet as a human shield to deflect a flying Kaspin en route to picking up a near-fall, but the challengers go back to their dirty tactics as they crotch Avalanche up top. A double-team press slam is fought out of as Nero returned to help out with a sidewalk slam/flying legdrop combo for a near-fall. Kaspin tries, and fails, with an O’Connor roll, before a back cracker/STO combo nearly gets Skillet the win.
There’s a DDT for Avalanche from Kaspin, but the Parade of Moves means Francis gets the Wasteland before Skillet almost stole it with a roll-up… he’s quickly made to pay as Avalanche hits his eponymous move, before the Final Consultation and a ripcord lariat secured the win. A nice sprint of a match here, as Monster Consulting slay the demon that was Jay-FK… and now they have a clear path to Tag League, right? ***¼
Fred Yehi vs. Chris Brookes
It’s a wXw debut for the Savageweight, who’s fallen off of a lot of radars following his EVOLVE departure. I’d love to know what happened, because before this tour, Yehi felt criminally underused by the more prominent parts of the indy scene.
Yehi tries to work on Brookes’ arm from the off, but things begin pretty evenly with Yehi scoring with a shoulder block before getting stomped on by Brookes. Someone’s been watching tape! Yehi responds by cornering Brookes for some chops, but they’re returned in kind before Yehi starts on his stomping attacks, going for the hands and knees in a bid to wear down the tag league entrant. More chops from Yehi keep him ahead, as does a low dropkick… but Brookes has plenty of steam left in his chops, which get used as he built up to the slingshot cutter for a near-fall. A wheelbarrow roll-up nearly does it for Brookes, but he keeps rolling through into the Kondo clutch – the inverted, sit-out Cloverleaf – only for Yehi to find himself thankfully close to the ropes.
Yehi retaliates with a Downward Spiral into the Koji Clutch, but Brookes is too tall and he easily swivels out and works his way into an Octopus hold, forcing Yehi to bear weight… only for those stomps to come back into play. A snap powerbomb from Yehi nearly ends it, as does a stomp to the back… but Brookes again goes for the wheelbarrow, reversing the reversal as he leans all the way back and scores the pin. Another sprint of a match, but it’s a frustrating debut loss for Yehi. ***½
wXw Shotgun Championship: Bobby Gunns vs. Marius al-Ani (c)
At Shortcut to the Top, al-Ani unseated Bobby Gunns… but with the rematch coming in Hamburg, a place that Gunns has a long unbeaten run in, are we going to get a quick switch?
We started with a tie-up as the “Ninja” took Gunns into the corner… but the resulting forearm barely fazed the Shortcut to the Top winner, who fought back with vigour, only to get decked with a clothesline as al-Ani rebounded out of a corner. Gunns tries to retaliate with a guillotine, rolling Marius around before he instead opted for a suplex as the Shotgun champion was kept on the mat. The match descends into a slugfest briefly, before Gunns found a counter to al-Ani’s sunset flip/kip-up/Exploder as he transitioned into the Swish armbar… but al-Ani stood up and stomped his way free. Marius keeps up his offence with a back elbow that barely gets a two-count, so he wears down with a chinlock, before neutering a fight-back when he just flapjacked the former champion.
An ankle lock effort backfires as Gunns rolls up al-Ani for a near-fall, before he continued to focus on the arm, stomping on al-Ani’s upper arm before working his way into a Fujiwara armbar. Oh, and some finger snaps too… which fire up al-Ani into a kip-up/dropkick, but Bobby’s right back onto the arm with an upkick. We’re back into a slugfest as the pair trade uppercuts, but al-Ani’s arm remains compromised… and an easy target to boot. Marius manages to catch a boot from Bobby, turning it into an ankle lock, only for Bobby to make it to the ropes. We get some nice indyriffic pinning attempts as the pair bridged back-and-forth, before Gunns’ German suplex served to set up for a spinning heel kick from Marius as both men collapsed back to the mat. More strikes eventually weakened al-Ani, with an enziguiri taking him into the ropes, where he was met with a hanging armbar a la Suzuki.
Gunns gets caught with a Dragon screw as he returned to the ring… and as he drops to the outside, Marius follows him out with a plancha… before he tries to suplex Bobby onto the stage. That’s reversed, as the pair end up about as far away from the ring as they can be, which perhaps isn’t the best place to trap Marius in a Fujiwara armbar, as the tapping counts for nought. Marius charges back, knocking Gunns down before looking to make a beeline back to the ring, only to get met with a flying elbow from Gunns as the referee decided to start the count.
Gunns ends up back in the ring… Marius decides to do a Travis Banks, grabbing his title and leaving, and so Bobby wins by count-out. There’s no new champion, but Bobby keeps his record as the King of Smoke Style has bigger fish to fry perhaps? A decent match, but perhaps the only sort of finish that was on the cards as you sense Gunns’ Hamburg streak is being saved for something much bigger. ***¼
Veit Müller vs. Doug Williams
This ought to be pretty good – on paper, this is a generational clash, with Müller enjoying hometown advantage here.
Yes, Hamburg loved the Kevin Owens chant for Veit. We’ve a cagey opening spell as Veit tried to go for Doug’s wrists, before forcing the wily veteran into the ropes with a surfboard stretch. Doug responds by taking him down to the mat as he took Die Keiler to school, before some criss-cross rope running led to them both going for arm drags… and therefore faceplanting! The old-school double pins follow as Veit’s emulating the classic World of Sport shenanigans, before Doug tried to cheapshot Müller from a handshake.
In response, Veit goes for an arm whip and an over-the-shoulder wristlock, but Williams replies by throwing him to the outside, and teasing a moonsault. C’mon everyone, don’t fall for that! Instead, Doug hits a knee off the apron as the relative upstart struggled to find an answer. There’s an old school abdominal stretch coming Müller’s way, but he’s able to hiptoss his way to freedom, before Doug sinks his claws in again with a chinlock. A cheeky forearm to the lower back keeps Veit on the back foot, as does a kick to the inner thigh and an atomic drop, before Müller stemmed the tide with a headbutt and a gutwrench suplex! The pair begin to trade blows, swapping chops, uppercuts and forearms, before Müller connected with a belly-to-belly suplex… but Doug surprises him with a roll-up for a near-fall as Veit couldn’t follow-up.
Doug tries to sail ahead with a running knee into the corner, then a diving back elbow before the Bomb Scare knee drop was thwarted. Veit connects with a superplex, but Doug’s able to get back up and tease a Chaos Theory… instead, Müller escapes and after a missed shoulder from Doug, Williams gets taken down with a judo throw as a Fujiwara armbar looked to force a submission. Williams gets a foot onto the ropes though, and begins his fightback, scoring with a knee in the corner, an Exploder out of it, before rolling Veit into the Chaos Theory for the win! A fun match that played to both guys’ old school strengths – and this was every bit the match I wanted it to be. If only we could have had Doug in his prime, this would have blown the roof off of the Markthalle! ***¼
Post-match, Doug thanks Hamburg in case this was his last match here before retiring, before putting over Veit. As he should!
They announced that Toni Storm had to vacate the wXw women’s title due to injury – so we’re getting a new champion crowned in Oberhausen, as Alpha Female would face the winner of the next three-way match for the belt.
Melanie Gray vs. Kris Wolf vs. Killer Kelly
We’ve another debut here as Kris Wolf began her tour of wXw… and it’s safe to say she was very excited about it!
Melanie takes the smart choice and powders out of the match, opting to watch from the crowd as Kris Wolf gets her first, erm, smell of Killer Kelly, before she tries to taste her wrist. Kelly wanted no part of that, but she’s not got long with Wolf as Melanie returns to the match… and promptly lays out the pair of them with forearms and boots. Gray keeps Killer Kelly cornered, working her way into a thrust kick for a near-fall… but Kelly recovers and boots Gray for a near-fall, thanks to the interference of Kris Wolf, who decides to show both her opponents what it’s like inside a wolf’s head. Rico Bushido needs to grab an expert in the form of Alan Counihan to identify if the wolf’s head is legal… and thankfully it is!
After that, Gray’s right back with a swinging side slam for a near-fall, before she kicks the tail clean off of Kris Wolf! Alan, surely that’d be a DQ? The crowd howl in disgust as somehow the tail-less Wolf is able to kick out, before almost nicking the win with a springboard crossbody. Kelly broke that cover up as she returned to uncork a German suplex to Wolf, before suplexing Gray into the corner for the Shibata-ish dropkick. Kelly gets a near-fall from that, but it’s Kris Wolf who’s back in… and made to pay as a Fisherman’s buster puts away the debutant. Killer Kelly’s got Alpha Female tomorrow… and it’s her biggest challenge to date. Literally. A good showing for Kris Wolf, whose tour of Germany should be a success based on this outing, even if this was far too brief for my liking. **¾
Post-match, Alpha Female makes her way down to the ring and has a staredown with Killer Kelly… it’s a surprisingly split crowd for those two!
Our semi-main event was meant to be RINGKAMPF vs. Sexy Starr… but Jack Sexsmith missed the German tour due to a family emergency, so David Starr needed a new partner.
RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) vs. David Starr & Ilja Dragunov
Did someone say unbesieg-starr?
It was Starr and Thatcher who got us going though, two men who know what it’s like to have mish-mashed partners as of late, and they pick up where they left off at OTT, going to the mat… but Starr was able to get to the ropes as Thatcher threatened to stretch him early on. Ilja wants in, and so we get Dragunov/Thatcher, with all the intensity you’d expect from those two on “just” a tie-up into the corner.
Thatcher nonchalantly puts his hands up to block a chop, but he struggled as Ilja squirmed out of a gutwrench… which means we just get a tag in from WALTER, and my God, there’s confirmation that this is an all-star tag match. Dragunov clings onto a headlock on WALTER, dragging him down to the mat, before opting to try for some shoulder blocks… which end badly as WALTER just scoop slams him with ease.
Dragunov has to be alert as WALTER looks to throw some chops, but he ducks them as David Starr blind-tags himself in… and we’ve the next chapter in David Starr’s chronicles of doom. The first words in that chapter were “David takes some forearms from WALTER”, but he manages to rebound with some chops before WALTER just swats him away as Timothy Thatcher looked on with glee from the apron.
There’s a sweet leapfrog and a big boot from WALTER as Starr’s snuffed out… with things not improving as Timothy Thatcher comes in to capitalise on the downed Product. Thatcher scores with the gutwrench for just a one-count, and then brings in WALTER who cuts the ring in half, acting like a human wall between Starr and Ilja. A human wall that chops and squashes you, that is… Timothy’s back to drop a few elbows on Starr, as RINGKAMPF were proving remarkably efficient. Starr keeps trying to chop his way back into it, but the comebacks are short lived… so Ilja wanders in and tries to chop away a Boston crab that WALTER had on… only to get a chop and a boot aimed his way. Thanks for coming, Ilja!
Finally Starr manages to outfox RINGKAMPF and work his way into a tag… but Ilja’s right into the proverbial frying pan as he has to chain together a series of strikes and a DDT to bring down Thatcher. A side headlock keeps Thatcher down as Starr tagged back in, perhaps a little too soon, but his falling headbutt keeps Thatcher down as Starr tried to play some mind games. Ground and pound proves to be the order of the day as Felix Schultz has to separate Starr and Thatcher, which just leads to Ilja coming in to pick up the pieces, scoring a near-fall from a back senton.
Starr’s lariat nearly puts Thatcher away as the crowd started to rally behind RINGKAMPF… and they were duly answered when an errant clothesline saw Starr wallop Ilja, allowing WALTER to get the tag in. Der Ringgeneral’s able to outdo both Starr and Dragunov, and pop up from a clothesline-assisted German before dumping both of them at once with lariats. Thatcher’s in with a noggin knocker to Unbesieg-Starr, but the Product blocks a RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly as they finally hit those duelling lariats and kick.
The Blue Thunder Bomb from Dragunov nearly puts Thatcher down for the count, but WALTER returns to make sure all four men were in the ring as some haymaker-like chops were thrown. Oh, and a massive shotgun dropkick to Starr, who then gets powerbombed into an uppercut as Ilja flies in with a back senton of the top to save the match. GOOD LORD!
More chops follow as WALTER and Ilja clubber each other, but Dragunov 619’s out of an attempted throw to the outside… only to come right into a Gojira clutch as RINGKAMPF almost fell to a double-pin as double Gojiras were rolled out of. That just earns them more some chops as a Parade of Moves ends with WALTER eating a Dragunov tope, before Starr’s Blackheart Buster almost puts away Thatcher! In the end though, Starr looked to finish off Thatcher with the Han Stansen, only for it to get caught and turned into an armbar, which Thatcher rolls through into a pinning predicament… and there’s the win! Holy crap. If you looked at these four names on the card, you probably would have had a match in your head… well, this exceeded what I had in my head. Carve out 20 minutes from your day and watch this. NOW. ****½
Hey, we even got a bit of air guitaring WALTER afterwards. That’s how happy he was with his night’s work!
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Absolute Andy (c)
Absolute Andy’s first marquee defence of the wXw title comes against one of the most decorated men in Europe… and someone who, to put it lightly, doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
Unfortunately, he had to suffer Andy’s iconic superkick during the introductions, as the champion felt that a jump start was his best chance. There’s a bit of brawling on the outside as Andy chops Sabre around ringside, only for his boot choking to get caught as Sabre grabs a toe-hold instead, prompting some fantastic facials from a scared Andy. Problem was, they continued to fight into the crowd, where Sabre tries to give Andy a dead leg all while Tassilo Jung tried in vain to get the match into the ring. Andy heads to the back for a chair, which just distracts the referee as Sabre manages to catch Andy in the stairway with an Octopus hold, only for the champion to escape and punch out Sabre as he finally took the match into the ring.
The bell sounds as we start with some boot choking from Andy, who picked up where he left off on the outside… but Sabre’s able to fight from the bottom, going for Andy’s arm as the champion suddenly found himself in trouble, having his arm snapped as he had to crawl into the ropes for some form of respite. Zack stays on the wristlock, despite Andy’s best efforts to roll out… but he does manage it at the third attempt, prompting much celebration from Andy himself. Remember we said Zack doesn’t suffer fools gladly? Well, he tried to kick Andy,before being forced to block a Sharpshooter with some jelly legs as he ends up tripping Andy into a kneebar… right by the ropes.
Fed up of working the arm, Sabre begins to after Andy’s hamstrings, only to run into a big chop as we’ve some more brawling on the outside, which allowed Andy to take over again. There’s a snap suplex that leaves Sabre down, before a sleeperhold saw Andy try and drain the remaining life out of his challenger… but let’s be realistic. It’d have to be a pretty special sleeperhold to put Zack away!
After getting free, we’ve a running backbreaker from Andy, sending Sabre rolling to the outside as the heavy-handed offence continued. Zack fights back though, scoring with a tornado DDT out of the corner, before following in with a charging uppercut and a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall. Sabre almost takes Andy to the Shankly Gates, but his overhead wristlock gets a little bit nastier courtesy of some face raking, as it’s back to the arm, only for Andy to counter back with a hanging suplex.
Sabre’s able to resume though, attempting a superplex that Andy fought out of, only to get superplexed anyway. Andy’s back with a big boot before he looked for the A-Klasse… but Sabre counters into an Octopus, then into a guillotine as Andy tried to sneak in the F5. What he did manage to pull off, mind you, was a freaking top rope ‘rana… before Sabre snuck in a PK as Agile Andy shocked the crowd. Zack’s almost toying with Andy with some kicks, but he’s eventually tripped into a Sharpshooter as Andy didn’t mess about. There’s a rope break from Sabre, as Andy decides to head outside and grab his belt, along with Thommy Giesen’s microphone. Tassilo Jung stops Andy from using them both as a weapon, but in the end it’s a spinebuster and a Sharpshooter that put Sabre in deeper trouble, only for the ropes to save the challenger once again.
From there, another F5 attempt is blocked as Sabre swings and misses… as does Andy as he tries for a low blow, which Sabre catches before pulling him into a double armbar, right by the ropes. Curse the smaller ring! Another series of kicks from Sabre end up being his undoing though, as he runs into the F5 for a near-fall, before Andy’s top rope elbow saw him land in a triangle armbar. That’s quickly escaped, but Andy goes back to the F5… which Sabre counters into the Jim Breaks Special… this time away from the ropes! Andy somehow strikes Tassilo Jung low as he flailed away… and luckily we’ve a second ref straight away as Rainer Ringer hits the ring. Rainer tries to call for a DQ, but Sabre talks him out of it, much to the crowd’s delight… but Zack’s quickly caught with another F5 as Andy squeaked to victory. A clinic. A joy to watch. A real challenge for Absolute Andy… and despite the shady win, a result that legitimises him as champion. ****¼
Post-match, Ilja Dragunov appears on stage – he’s got Absolute Andy in Oberhausen on the second half of the weekender. Heck, Ilja marches to the ring for a staredown, before chasing Andy away.
When promotions do these double-header weekends, it’s oh so tempting to expect one show would be weak. If that is the case, then Oberhausen’s going to be amazing. Presented as a gift to their supporters, the first half of wXw’s Fan Appreciation Night weekender contained something truly special with that unannounced RINGKAMPF tag match. Up and down the rather brisk card, there was something for everyone – with the only “table setting” in sight being the women’s match that set up for Oberhausen’s title match.
If you’ve gotten this far in the review, then all I have to say is this: drop everything you’re doing, sign up for (or log into) wXwNOW, and watch RINGKAMPF vs. Starr & Dragunov. You’ll be oh so glad you did!