wXw’s FAN weekender wrapped up with a lot of change as we left Oberhausen with a new women’s champion, a new entry for World Tag Team League, and an idea of who’s next for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship…

This weekend is still for us as a thank you, but especially those who filled the Turbinenhalle for 16 Carat Gold earlier this year. Our present: Alpha Female searching for the women’s title… a brutal last man standing match… and Ilja Dragunov’s attempt to regain what he lost in August. We’ve still got our rotating crew of Rico Bushido, Andy Jackson and Alan Counihan on the English commentary.

Millie McKenzie vs. Kris Wolf
Having been bumped from the Hamburg show due to the restructuring around the women’s title, Millie’s got a different match here, as she faces the new-to-wXw Kris Wolf. Yep, she’s still thrilled to be here… who told her about the kebab van outside?!

Millie’s got a little height advantage over Wolf, so that opening test of strength is a little mocking on first sight, before Millie goes after the wrist, taking Wolf down to the mat. Wolf uses the ropes in a rather unconventional way to rebound, as she worked her way into a step-up knee for a near-fall, before she blinded Felix Schulz with her wolf’s head. Problem was, it meant that the ref couldn’t make a cover as he couldn’t see!

The mask gets put to better use as Millie can’t see Kris rubbing her backside in her face… but that just angers the Coventry native, who punts the head into the crowd like it’s Gene Snitsky and a baby. A spear’s good for a near-fall as McKenzie, who decides to work on the arm and, erm, tail of Wolf at the same time. Like a Zack Sabre Jr… who doesn’t care about animals! Wolf decides to use her tail, and her feet, to kick away at Millie, but the mean face is back as Millie fires back with some Angel’s Wings for a near-fall. A head kick from Wolf’s next as Millie’s dropped to her feet, then again with a suplex… but Suplex Millie returns to one-up her with a series of Germans, only for Kris to counter with a crucifix into a sunset flip for the win out of nowhere! An enjoyable opener, with Kris Wolf picking up her first W – and now all she needs to do is recover her head! ***

RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. Jay-FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. Emil Sitoci & Dirty Dragan
Billed as a “last chance” to qualify for the World Tag Team League, it was a chance for Dirty Dragan to show us all how far he’s come since his Trial Series started earlier this year.

I don’t know why, but I’m getting a vibe of the old Nickelodeon cartoon, Rocko’s Modern Life from Dragan’s entrance graphics… Jay-FK jump RISE at the bell, but Dragan and Sitoci just wait back and allow Jay-FK to tire themselves out. Quite a simple tactic, when you think about it! Kaspin and Skillet end up outside, begging for a time-out… but Emil Sitoci doesn’t want to let them wait, so he dives onto them, before holding them for a dive from Dragan… who leaps off the apron with a double axehandle!

The match finally starts with Bouncer and Sitoci squaring off, but it’s Emil who draws first blood with a dropkick, only for Bouncer to retaliate with a slam and an elbow drop for a near-fall. Kiev’s brought in to help with an axe kick/sidewalk slam combo that almost puts away Sitoci, before a Stinger splash and a diving boot… just sees Sitoci kip up as Kiev posed for the crowd. There’s a nice ‘rana out of the Dutchman, who brings in Dragan to try and finish the job… by being slammed onto Kiev for a near-fall. Dragan’s able to keep up with an elbow drop, but a jawbreaker from Kiev turns it around, before Francis Kaspin’s knee to the back of Dragan counted as a blind tag into the match. Jay-FK relished their time in there with Dragan, perhaps seeing him as the weak link of the contest… but Dragan’s able to leap over a double back body drop and make the tag out to Kiev.

Ivan’s able to clear house, taking down Kaspin with a neckbreaker for a two-count as Emil Sitoci dove in to break up the cover. A split-legged moonsault starts a Parade of Moves as everyone looked to hit everyone with their best shot, including a flying leg lariat from Ivan Kiev to Emil Sitoci… but somewhere in here Dirty Dragan got a blind tag! An X-Factor to Kiev means nothing, as Bouncer was legal, and nearly won it with a double-arm DDT. Bouncer’s made to pay with a spinning tombstone from Sitoci as the Parade keeps on going, leading to a Spanish Fly from Emil as I’ve long since forgotten who’s legal.

Jay-FK rush the ring to try and capitalise, but Dragan wants to hit duelling Snapmare Drivers. Sitoci’s works, but Dragan’s doesn’t as Kaspin holds onto the rope, before shoving Dragan into his partner… there’s a STO/back cracker for Sitoci, while the referee misses a low blow to Dragan, who’s quickly put away with a superkick… and Jay-FK make World Tag Team League! This was a decent match, chock-full of action, although I lost track of who was legal, which invariably hurts these multi-way tags. Still, it’s a huge sign of Jay-FK’s progression – from being in a “subject to change” match at Tag League last year to being part of the tournament proper this. ***¼

Fred Yehi vs. Doug Williams
Much less hyped than his Hamburg match, this could be a cracker for Doug Williams, whose career is arguably in the winding down phase.

Yehi refuses a handshake at the start, as he instead opted to work on the wrist of Williams from the off, as the match remained grounded as as technical as you’d expect. Some headscissors see Yehi keep Williams on the mat, but Doug rolls through and escaped before rolling Yehi back up, eventually catching a crossbody before an early tease at the Chaos Theory was nullified.

Yehi quickly moves onto his stomping offence, before focusing on Williams’ arm with elbows and armbreakers. Doug manages to hit back with a back elbow, before dropping Yehi with a shoulder block as he was starting to outsmart the former EVOLVE tag champion. A huge Irish whip sent Yehi bouncing off of the turnbuckles, before Williams grabbed an abdominal stretch… which was a little too close to the ropes as Yehi was able to reach out for the break. Some headscissors follow as Doug keeps Yehi grounded, before he oddly sent the match to the outside for some brawling… a little outside of Doug’s usual gameplan.

Back in the ring, the slugfest continues by way of forearms, but it’s Yehi who edges ahead here, dropping Doug with a low dropkick for a two-count. An Exploder from Doug almost turned it around and won the match, only for Yehi to respond by trapping him into some rapid-fire bicycle kicks as some indy’riffic pinning attempts broke out for near-falls, before Doug got up, took him into the corner, and finished him off with the Chaos Theory. A rather abrupt end, but a solid match that delivered about as much as you’d expect. ***

We get a video package to recap Tarkan Aslan’s turn on Lucky Kid… and his alignment with Marius al-Ani – complete with a previously innocent line from Marius al-Ani where he told Lucky “things aren’t what they seem.” See what I mean about wXw? Always planting seeds for things that pay off down the line…

Tarkan Aslan & Marius al-Ani vs. Lucky Kid & Bobby Gunns
The entrances lasted longer than the match!

Lucky Kid insisted on starting, and he was fairly restrained before he dove into Tarkan Aslan at the bell. It’s Marius al-Ani who starts out as legal though, with Lucky laying into him too before going after Aslan with some ground and pound. Lucky built into an accidental DDT as he took down Marius with an Asai DDT, all while Bobby Gunns watches on from the apron as both al-Ani and Aslan stayed in the ring. A handspring back elbow takes down both opponents though, before Aslan blocked a gamengiri, which led to Bobby Gunns finally coming in! There’s an Arabian press from Lucky to Sitoci on the outside, but his next dive is stopped by way of a brass knuckle-assisted punch from Tarkan Aslan. Lucky’s laid out, and one frog splash from Marius later, we have a winner. I sense the crowd (and commentary) didn’t see the brass knuckle shot as they chanted bullshit to this result… a match that comes across watching the edited version, methinks.

Post-match, Bobby Gunns calls al-Ani and Aslan scum, before demanding the match be restarted as he flagged up the brass knuckle shot. Problem was, the bad guys walked off as Gunns snapped at what he saw was continued incompetence, and we have a loose cannon on our hands!

Last Man Standing: Jurn Simmons vs. David Starr
Originally slated for 16 Carat Gold, we finally have the last man standing match between the former Massive Product. Jurn’s got a sly grin on his face coming out… because he’s already got his Kendo stick with him!

In retaliation, Starr’s got his own homemade version under the ring, and I guess we’re starting with a duel… once Tassilo Jung leaves the ring because he wants no part of any flying splinters. They head outside quickly, with Starr hitting the ring post as they started brawling into the crowd, giving us all a good tour of the Turbinenhalle… and hey, there’s the stairway I hit my head on last year. Now David Starr sorta knows how that feels, as he was lifted into the stairway…

They head up into the merchandise area, where Starr uses a mannequin as a weapon, only for Jurn to just throw it at him a they ended up brawling through the curtain and to the back. Emerging back on the stage, Jurn teases a Massive Piledriver, but instead Starr counters with a back body drop onto the raised catwalk as we get our first count of the night. Jurn’s back up quickly… and back down too as Starr stage dives onto him, before he grabs a chair and begins to dismantle the ring. He can’t quite remove the turnbuckle pad as Jurn returns and hits a standing Awful Waffle onto the chair, before finishing off the turnbuckle that Starr had started. Curse the ring crew for their tight knots!

The pair fought to throw the other into the exposed steel, but it’s Jurn who edged ahead, setting up for a Massive Piledriver onto an open chair, before he instead had to make do with throwing Starr into that turnbuckle. That chair’s quickly used as a draping DDT ends up with Starr eating the furniture, as Jurn began to remove the bottom turnbuckle cover as Starr dragged himself back to his feet. Hold on, Jurn’s not done with just the turnbuckle pad… he’s unscrewing the buckle itself, but David Starr whacks him with a chair before the bottom rope can be fully loosened. Starr liked the idea though, and he continued the job, but not before he’s met with a chairshot as well, before Jurn hits a suplex throw and gets that bottom rope loose. The first thing Jurn does is choke Starr with the rope, then drives the turnbuckle steel into the Product’s back… and he gets an instant receipt as the loose steel was quickly used as a spike of sorts.

Starr wields it again and lays out Jurn as he looked to claim the count-out win… but then he has a better idea, as he stops Tassilo Jung’s count to pick up Jurn’s own Kendo stick. Yep, Simmons gets some payback for all those times he “beheaded” folks, before he stopped to beg for mercy… and dive in with a low blow as he took advantage of Starr’s clemency. Jurn showed no quarter when he had the stick, driving the stick through Starr, who had to roll to the floor to get back to his feet. Someone saw Takeover! That just angered Jurn, who cleared the crowd so he could suplex-throw Starr into the crowd… and I think that snapped at least one chair. The crowd helps Starr back to his feet, but he quickly collapses once the count stops, before he got back up in a bid to hit a Cherry Mint DDT. Simmons just powers out and dumps Starr with a forearm , before he looked to dismantle the ring further, ripping off the apron, the ropes that keep the canvas taut to the frame, and now it’s time to peel up the canvas and expose the boards!

Hey, at least the crowd are getting an idea of what the ring’s actually made of… it’s not exactly an organised teardown, but if it works, it works.

On the exposed boards, Jurn goes for the Massive Piledriver, but Starr counters out and hits a piledriver of his own as Jurn’s head hit the wood hard. Somehow Jurn gets back to his feet, and instantly catches Starr on the top rope with a belly-to-belly superplex… and with both men hitting the wood, it seemed to be a bridge too far as neither man could beat the count, and so we’ve got a draw. Short of both men bleeding all over the place, this was as brutal and violent as you can get… and since they’re saving a rematch for World Tag Team League, I’m now a little fearful for what’s planned next. A good chapter in the story, but we’re a long way from the end. ****

Right, time for an interval as the ring’s put back together… Cheers Jurn, cheers Dave…

wXw World Tag Team Championship: RINGKAMPF (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) (c)
With all three teams in World Tag Team League, this is a nice warm up for next month’s festival. Yes, it really is next month…

Kyle Fletcher was eyeing up those belts before the bell, and we’ve got a crowded ring for this tornado rules match… starting with Julian Nero offering Kyle five minutes. Sadly, it didn’t instantly lead to a High Five of Doom from Mark Davis, as instead Kyle’s taken into the corner for some mounted punches. You can guess how many… as Kyle then tags out, and now we get the High Five of Doom!

Julian DOES NOT LEARN! I pop, as the high five spot gets established, and I get the feeling that you may get a few more fans looking for it in Germany. Davis ends up taking the mounted punches as well, before Avalanche tagged in… further aggravating Nero’s hand. The big guy struggled a little as Aussie Open double-teamed briefly… but Avalanche staggered into the path of Timothy Thatcher, who tagged in, and now Kyle Fletcher’s life may be endangered.

Thatcher goes right to Fletcher, grounding him for some slaps… which Kyle returns with glee as those two slug it out. It gets from bad to worse as Fletcher backs Thatcher into the corner, with WALTER coming in… and oh God, it’s WALTER vs. Davis. I fear for Dunkzilla’s chest… but first he tries to shoulder charge through WALTER, before both men swung and missed with chops. There’s a big boot from WALTER that dumps Davis with ease, before he starts to unload with those chops. So that’s how Mark’s chest was marked so badly for those Rev Pro tapings! Dunkzilla fires back in kind, before connecting with a dropkick and a tag out to Kyle, who willingly leaps into harm’s way as RINGKAMPF double-teamed him with the greatest of ease.

A Sambo suplex from WALTER rudely takes Kyle down to the mat, while Thatcher makes light work of a deadlift side Salto suplex as the tag champions were kept out of the contest. There’s a Boston crab from WALTER, but Fletcher makes it to the ropes, only for Thatcher to come back in with an elbow drop as RINGKAMPF looked to be dissecting the Aussie Arrow… and although Fletcher did fight back, a big boot sends WALTER into the Monster Consulting corner as Avalanche gets the blind tag in. It’s like going from the frying pan and into the fire for Fletcher, as the champions double-teamed him for a spell, with Nero and Avalanche chipping away further on Fletcher.

There’s another second wind from Fletcher, who makes it over to Mark Davis for the tag, and Dunkzilla unloads with chops and clotheslines in the corner… before he punched out Avalanche! The sit-down splash squashes Nero, but Avalanche returns to catch Davis with a Samoan drop… but we’ve got more tags as Nero and Thatcher end up in the ring. An Angle Slam, of all things, from Nero nearly ends the match, but Thatcher’s ire is building… and when he escapes a Final Consultation, he’s able to bring in WALTER. Oh boy. Chops from WALTER to his fellow Austrians, AUTsiders be damned, before Nero ate a German suplex to take him outside. Aussie Open get similar treatment, before Davis and WALTER exchanged chops like there was no tomorrow. A quick clothesline takes WALTER to the outside, so Nero ends up eating some of those chops before he caught Davis with Wasteland… and we’ve a Parade of Moves, featuring a flying X-Factor to Thatcher, before Avalanche eats a shotgun dropkick from WALTER. A powerbomb’s next, but a frog splash from Fletcher makes the save.

We’re back to Davis and WALTER, as Aussie Open hit their own version of the Final Consultation… prompting Thatcher to run in with uppercuts as the ring fills. Monster Consulting give Thatcher their own Final Consultation, and now we’re down to the Aussies and Austrians. Avalanche takes an assisted cutter for a near-fall after dives kept RINGKAMPF on the outside, but in the end Davis struggled to get Avalanche up for the double-team powerbomb, which allowed Avalanche to hit the Final Consultation and a ripcord lariat to Fletcher for the win. A cracking three-way tag – and if this is any indication of what Tag League’s going to be like… we’re going to be in for a treat! ****¼

Rico Bushido confuses the story re: Toni Storm a little here – she was made to vacate her women’s title since she’d have gone four and a half months without a defence by the time she was due to recover from injury… not that she’s on the shelf for another four months. Killer Kelly won a three-way in Hamburg to face Alpha Female for the vacant belt… but first we see footage of Melanie Gray talking her way into the match.

wXw Women’s Championship: Alpha Female vs. Melanie Gray vs. Killer Kelly
Someone sure does look happy to have gotten themselves added to the mix…

Melanie started off by trying to pick her shots, but she quickly rolls to the outside when Alpha and Kelly hit back. So the two of them just go after each other, with Alpha Female easily throwing Kelly around the ring. Some clubbing blows nearly won the belt for Alpha, as Melanie Gray was happy to just watch from the floor – and break up covers as and when they happened.

A bow-and-arrow hold sees Alpha stretch Kelly, before a simple body slam draws a near-fall as Melanie keeps up with her hit-and-run tactics. Kelly has to elbow out of a chinlock, but she’s quickly decked with another forearm shot, as the first ever wXw women’s champion looked to have met her match. Gray breaks up another pin after a tree slam from Alpha Female nearly puts Kelly away… and Kelly returns with a guillotine as she tried to squeeze the life out of the monster. Alpha Female charges her into the corner to break it up, but Kelly’s able to rebound with a series of kicks, finally taking her down with a bicycle kick as Melanie again breaks up the cover.

Those tactics finally lead to a comeuppance as Alpha and Kelly bring Melanie into the ring, targeting her with forearms before she again powders… but she’s brought back in as Kelly corners her for a Shibata-ish dropkick! Alpha quickly smashes Kelly with a forearm and a powerslam for a near-fall though, before a chop block from Gray saves Kelly from a chop block.

Finally, Melanie launches some offence, catching Alpha with running double knees for a near-fall. That changed focus meant that Kelly was able to come back and hit Alpha unawares with a snap suplex for a near-fall, as we raced into some pinning attempts… but Melanie seemed to be relying on roll-ups for a spell. The Anaconda Vise from Alpha Female almost put Kelly away, before she instead let go and hits a Dominator… but Melanie Gray shoves Alpha away and steals the pin… and with minimal physical effort (relatively speaking), Melanie steals the title! A well worked match, as Melanie Gray finally connived her way into winning the gold… and Alpha Female’s got a familiar foe to go through if she wants to win the belt. ***¼

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. Absolute Andy (c)
After losing his title at Shortcut to the Top, Ilja’s got his rematch here – in the same building he originally won the belt back in March.

Andy tries to cheapshot Ilja at the bell, but his attempt to kick Ilja is caught… and Dragunov wants to start out from there. It backfires though, as Andy uses referee Tassilo Jung as a human shield en route to the F5, which barely gets a one count as Dragunov kicks out… and tried to stop Andy from powdering to the outside. Chops from Ilja keep Andy at bay, before taking him into the corner for a series of clotheslines, ahead of a tope as the match spilled to the outside. Andy’s placed in the front row as Dragunov gets a running start for a back senton that knocks the champion out of his seat… but he’s re-seated as Dragunov breaks the count and opts to hit it again!

Andy tries to cling onto the chairs to save himself, but Dragunov just kicks them away as they roll back inside, where Ilja keeps up on Andy with a dropkick and an enziguiri. Some mounted punches had commentary question Andy’s longevity here, especially as his punches barely fazed Dragunov. Illja looks to mock Andy with a Sharpshooter, before he opted to let go and go for a crossface instead as Dragunov’s rattling off the finishers of some former Canadian champions.

A rope break saves Andy, but Ilja’s not rushing, as he instead opted to methodically work through Andy with chops, wearing down the self-styled “Veteraan”… only to run into another F5 attempt. Dragunov escapes and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb before giving a champion his own F5 for a near-fall! Dragunov tries to follow up off the top rope, but Andy kicks the referee into the ropes, crotching Dragunov in the process. Andy capitalises there as he unties Dragunov so he could go for a superplex, but instead Ilja escapes with a Ligerbomb for a near-fall! Dragunov goes back up top, but his Coast to Coast ends with the superkick as Andy gave us a call-back… and despite kicking out, Ilja was punch drunk as he stood up and swung for anything that moved. Somehow, Dragunov’s able to rebound with Torpedo Moscau, but both men spill to the outside

Dragunov puts the boots to Andy on the floor, but the frustration’s starting to show as Ilja wanders around ringside and grabs the title belt. Tass tries to stop him, only for Ilja to walk into a brutal chairshot as Andy waffled the challenger… busting him open in the process as Tass was returning the belt to the timekeeper’s table. Ilja’s leaking blood now, much like he was against Bad Bones last December, and it’s now Andy who’s on top as he fires off a series of punches to Ilja’s forehead. Andy starts to choke Dragunov on the mat as the challenger was thrown outside, where the beating continues, before they returned to the ring where Andy sought an avalanche F5… and hits it for another two-count.

Andy stops to grab the microphone as he mocks Dragunov’s family, calling himself a better father than Ilja… Dragunov’s motionless as Andy Jackson provided some in-play translation, before Andy picked up Ilja for another F5… but Ilja slips out and tries to batter the life out of Absolute Andy. It was deserved. Clotheslines, elbows and rapid-fire knees see Andy scurry into the corner, where he’s chopped… but Andy rebounds with a boot before going back outside for the chair. Tassilo Jung stops Andy, but Ilja grabs the hardware and sacrifices the match as he lays out Andy for the blatant DQ. Once again, Andy pushed the right buttons and played Ilja against his own temper… and despite taking a pasting, it was to his own benefit. In that context, this was a really good main event – and still leaves the door open for a major blow-off down the line. ****

Post-match, Ilja chokes out Andy with the remains of that chair, before throwing Tassilo Jung over the top rope to win the Shortcut to… oh. That was last month. Nevermind. Ilja continues to choke away on Andy as everyone seemed hesitant to break it up… and I don’t blame them! Finally there’s back-up as Ilja scaled the ropes, but Ilja just stage dives into the ring crew, before going back up top for a back senton into Andy!

Eventually, we’re interrupted by Bobby Gunns, who had his own issues earlier in the evening… he blows smoke in Ilja’s face, before throwing his lit cigarette and a low blow into Dragunov. I have a feeling he’ll pay for that later… but first Gunns kicks Andy low, as it seems the loose cannon of wXw has declared his intention to go after Absolute Andy’s belt… which he poses with to end the show, as Rico Bushido announces that Bobby’s getting his shot at World Tag Team League!

That’s the end of FAN 2018 – a pair of events that showcased wXw at their absolute best when it comes to their overall product. While the immediate focus has been shifted onto Andy vs. Bobby for the wXw Unified World Wrestling title during World Tag Team League weekend, there’s still plenty of bad blood left brewing to pick up with Dragunov once more down the line, whether it’s for the belt or not.

I may be biased, but shows like FAN continue to strengthen the argument that wXw are at the very least the best promotion in Europe when it comes to their overall product – combining the in-ring action with story-telling, delivering it in a neatly-tied bow that is Shotgun and the marquee events. Next up, after Shotgun XXL next week, is their autumn festival of wrestling that is World Tag Team League… and based on the events of FAN, those three days in Oberhausen look to be a sure-fire home run for wXw.

If you’re not making the trip to north-west Germany next month, then do the next best thing and sign up at wxwnow.com to make sure you can catch all the action!