Das Hamburg “Power Crowd” played host to its final show of the year, as the Fight Forever tour rolled into town.

A nice video package sums up the matches and rivalries going into the show, and we’ve got the pairing of Sebastian Hollmichel alongside Dan Jokisch, and the floating hashtag for this show! The English get Rico Bushido and Christian Jakobi, without any of the floaty goodness!

Marius al-Ani vs. Avalanche
This warm-up for Marius ahead of his match with Zack Sabre Jr. later this month at the 17th Anniversary show was a bit of a test, as he took on one half of the number one contenders to the wXw tag team titles here.

Avalanche imposes his size early on, freely sending al-Ani flying with shoulder blocks, forcing the former tag champ to fire back with kicks in the corner. It’s a hard battle for the “Ninja Warrior of wXw”, as he has to use his speed to evade the monstrous Austrian, who propelled him from the ring to the floor with an early kick-out.

Avalanche joined Marius on the floor for some clubbering, before he was caught with a baseball slide dropkick after taking too long to go back inside. Eventually Marius is able to roll Avalanche back in, before aborting a frog splash as the tide swiftly turned with a Samoan drop. Another hint of a fightback ends with a belly-to-belly suplex that the Hamburg crowd didn’t like, as Avalanche splashed his way to a near-fall.

al-Ani manages to sneak in a Victory Roll, planting Avalanche on his dome for a near-fall, but still his size is a problem, and it’s pace that helps as a tornado DDT gets the big man down. A near-fall leads to a monstrous kick-out… which al-Ani switches impressively into a legdrop on the way down, but Avalanche is still on top, landing a pumphandle bomb for another near-fall. Avalanche goes up for a Dreissker Bomb, but al-Ani gets his knees up before peppering him with dropkicks, ending with a spinning heel kick that finally took him down. Marius seems to be on top, but an Exploder was too ambitious, and he’s thrown away, only to reply with his customary slingshot sunset combo into… not a dropkick, as Avalanche blocks it.

Marius manages to get in a missile dropkick moments later, then the Exploder as he looked to be comfortable, but then *this ain’t the end of me*! Absolute Andy’s music and entrance video played, distracting Marius, who ran into the Boulder Dash seconds later for the win. All-in, a fairly comfortable win for Avalanche, who more or less treated al-Ani as an annoyance rather than anything else… ***

Avalanche quickly exists the stage, leaving Marius to vent at the Absent Andy. Except he wasn’t… Andy hits the ring from behind and drops Marius with an F5, before an attempted powerbomb’s escaped as Marius tears into Andy, just in time for several burly ring crew members to hit the ring and separate the pair. It’s good to see Andy kept a few of his old t-shirts around!

Dirty Dragan vs. Michael Dante
Without Emil Sitoci around, Dragan’s at a bit of a loose end these days – and he’s not exactly dressed to compete, at least on first sight, as he’s paired his mermaid-esque bell bottoms with a 70s floral shirt.

Dragan takes the mic before the match and says he’ll beat Dante with kung fu… that might be his only chance given the size difference with he and Dante, although he does have the crowd on-side! Those chants quickly subsided into those of “please don’t die” after Dante initially shoved down Dragan… and this turns into Dragan bouncing off of Dante rather than anything kung fu related.

After he’d run into the crowd, Dragan’s dragged back in by his hair as Dante starts to throw him around by ease, hitting a back body drop for a near-fall. It takes Dragan being Dirty to get him a chance, as he trips Dante ahead of an elbow drop for a surprising near-fall, before grounding the Dutchman in a chinlock, throwing in some beard-pulling for the hell of it.

Dante shows off his strength as he stands up from a side headlock and marches Dragan to the corner – a rather unpopular move in Hamburg, it seems. Dragan tries to go all Toru Yano with a mule kick, but it’s blocked and met with a forearm as Dragan’s demise is only delayed… with a side suplex getting Dante another near-fall.

Eventually Dragan gets off some hip attacks to take Dante into the corner, but that just angers him again as Dragan cowers to avoid a running shoulder block… grabbing the microphone to apologise for his earlier comments and ask for mercy. Dante gives a thumbs down, and spears Dragan for the win. Well, this wasn’t much, but the crowd’s reactions distracted a lot. They tried, but there wasn’t much to work with here. *¾

Bobby Gunns vs. Jay Skillet
The winner gets a crack at the Shotgun title at the 17th Anniversary show in a few weeks’ time, which’d be a good way to cap off a fantastic 2017 for Bobby Gunns… but he’s got to win to get there.

Gunns and Skillet grapple early until a rope break’s called for, but it’s not long before Gunns’ attempt to take control led to him getting charged into the corner. At the next attempt, Gunns takes over, dropping Skillet with a snapmare, but he’s too arrogant and the favour’s quickly returned as Jay grabs an armbar, then a wristlock, which Gunns worked out of.

It’s looking rather effortless for the King of Smoke Style, even if there are a few speed bumps on the way.

Just as I type that, Skillet comes back with a neckbreaker, then a back elbow out of the corner, before Gunns tried to surprise him with an armbar. Another one follows in the ropes, a la Suzuki, as Gunns pressed ahead, tripping Jay into an Indian deathlock-style submission for good effect.

Referee Tassilo Jung watches on in horror as Gunns stomped on Skillet’s trapped arm, but Jay almost snuck the win with a wheelbarrow roll-up, only for Gunns to hit back instantly with a Flatliner into the turnbuckles. Bobby’s incessant pot shots just angered Jay though, and he gets in an enziguiri to give him a chance, followed by a clothesline and a flying crossbody.

A Michinoku driver almost gets the win, but Gunns gets up just in time, and quickly takes Jay back down with a German suplex and another clothesline. Body shots from Gunns lead to him getting suplexed, but he again counters back with an armbar, taking down Skillet for the eventual submission. A solid showing from Gunns, whose impressive year might well end with Shotgun gold – on top of that list of scalps that he’s been collecting! ***¼

We’re barely 45 minutes into a show that goes nearly two and a half hours… so we’ve got some long matches left on the card?

I Quit Match: Alexander James vs. Jurn Simmons
Borne out of being the man who twisted the knife during the Massive Product split, Alexander James came into this with two impressive wins over Jurn Simmons… but he accepted a rematch under I Quit rules, seemingly playing into the American’s hands.

Jurn’s all business here, as he doesn’t gyrate, and instead makes a beeline for James as the match starts in the crowd… with a whole lot of clubbering and not much in the way of submission attempts. The first technical attempt came when James used an errant tag rope to try and choke Jurn with, but instead the pair brawled up onto the stage, where Jurn dumped James with a suplex.

Of course, that’s not ending the match.

Jurn teases getting a table, but James puts it away and gets a chair instead… which just delays things as Jurn shrugs him off and grabs the table anyway. Simmons teases suplexing James to the floor and through the table, but Alexander escapes and traps Simmons in a wristlock as he tried to force a submission. With submissions not working, James turned to threats, which also didn’t work, as he tried to put Jurn through the table… it’s blocked, so instead he slingshots back into the ring with a Blockbuster before grabbing the microphone to antagonise the Dutchman even more. Jurn still won’t budge, so James keeps up on the arm, hitting an overhead kick as the Hamburg crowd crowned him the “Prince of Bullshit”.

A Divorce Court takes Simmons down again after some more joint manipulation – prompting some fantastic reactions from the on-looking Tassilo Jung. The underhandedness creeps in again as James removes a turnbuckle pad, but this time Jurns tops it as James gets thrown into the exposed ring, as Simmons mounts a comeback, sending James flying with a back body drop.

Simmons tries for a Massive Boot, but it misses and James quickly applies the Coat of Arms instead, but rather than keep the hold on, James breaks it and keeps hammering away on the arm, using another chair for good measure as he threatens to Pillmanise the arm. Hey, someone watched Bad Bones!

James keeps up with the chair, trapping Simmons’ arm in it in the ropes before going all EVIL by threatening to hit that contraption with a second chair, which he does, repeatedly. It’s brutal stuff, but Jurn’s stubbornly clinging on, so James swipes a handily-placed roll of duct tape from the timekeeper’s table to help him keep Jurn in the ropes. He did a poor job though, as Jurn easily ripped free and threw the chair at James, before booting away a springboard attempt to send the Prince of Pro head-first through that table.

Since James wouldn’t quit, Jurn broke out the big guns – a gutwrench powerbomb, a Massive boot and release suplexes… before going back to the furniture. Chairshot after chairshot eventually broke the seat free of the chairs, as Jurn went for even more of them to set up for a painful landing… but you know Wrestling Logic – Jurn gets suplexed through them instead!

James goes back to the arm, wrenching away with a chair-assisted Coat of Arms, but it’s eventually broken when Jurn grabbed a second chair and threw it up to the American, before hitting the Massive piledriver onto the chair. There’s still no quitting though, so Jurn’s going for the tape and gets some revenge as he tapes James into the corner, where he threatens to take his head off with more chairs.

Another chairshot pops off another seat over James’ head, but there’s still no quit! Another chair, another seat gets wrecked, and then Jurn tapes up James’ mouth. How’s he going to quit then?! Jurn threatens him some more, and head out for more plunder… a Singapore cane! Dear God…

James tries to submit, but Jurn shoves the cane in his mouth to stop the submission… he tees up for a swift cane shot to the neck, and that’s what forces the submission… but Jurn hits it anyway! Fantastically brutal, with this quick three-part series coming to a hard-fought end. This is how you do an I Quit match without having it become a glorified Hardcore match. Alexander James looked stellar in defeat, and I for one hope he’s back in wXw in a similar position next year… but since Jurn is sticking around, the win puts him back on track towards the top of the card. ****¼

We head into intermission with the ring crew carting away Alexander James… before Thommi Giesen reveals another new entrant for 16 Carat Gold next year: Rey Fenix!

Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) vs. Chris Colen & Ilja Dragunov
This was set up after Dragunov and Colen helped each other out at Broken Rules in their matches against Da Mack and Bad Bones respectively – even if Colen came up short in the end…

Of course, the battle against RISE starts with Colen and Dragunov starting out hot, sending the Young Lions outside ahead of a plancha from Colen and a Dragunov suicide dive! Mounted punches in the corners follow, but the Lions escape and threaten to overwhelm Colen… but when it boiled down to Colen against Lucky Kid, the size difference really told. An attempted sunset flip’s easily stuffed and turned into a Beele throw from Colen, but Kid replies with a handspring back elbow as the Hamburg crowd pleaded for Ilja… quietening momentarily as Colen impressively suplexed Kid.

Finally Ilja gets the tag in, and he easily decks Kid with spinning chops and DDTs, before dumping him with a Blue Thunder bomb for a near-fall. A quick enziguiri puts the brakes on Ilja, as Tarkan Aslan comes in and gets quickly shoved away, only for Aslan to start working over the knee as the RISE duo use whatever means they can to keep Ilja at bay. Some choking with a t-shirt helps as Aslan keeps aggravating Colen into the ring.

The Hamburg “Power Crowd” gets into full voice to try and rouse Ilja back into the match, but he’s trapped in an Octopus hold, before slapping Ilja… which just angered the Russian. Lucky Kid tries to quell that, but he ends up running into a vicious knee from Ilja, who’s finally able to bring Colen back into the match.

Colen powers over the Young Lions, throwing Aslan and Kid around like they were nothing, before blasting them with a double clothesline. That leads to Ilja coming in with a monstrous back senton off the top that flattened Lucky Kid for a near-fall, only for a low dropkick to quickly swing things back around in the Young Lions’ favour.

A flip plancha to the outside sees Lucky Kid knock down both men, before Ilja’s thrown back into the ring and left isolated for the Circle of Live… but Colen pulls out Lucky Kid as Ilja instead charges Aslan into the corner, before going up top once more. Aslan rolls away from a back senton, but instead takes a Coast to Coast dropkick as a short-range Torpedo Moscau puts away Aslan for the win! A gritty, hard-fought win for the pairing of Colen and Dragunov – and with Ilja getting another wXw Unified World Wrestling title shot next, this was just the win he needed to set him up for a potentially big night in Oberhausen. ***¼

RINGKAMPF (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. RISE (“Bad Bones” John Klinger & Ivan Kiev)
This was non-title, as wXw love to do these “all champions in one match” gimmicks when they get the chance. RISE vs. RINGKAMPF just made this a little bit tastier. Hamburg were only too keen to join in with the “RISE ist scheiß” chant, something that angered the not-at-all jovial Bad Bones. So the crowd chant “Sad Bones” at their former home-town hero. Oh Hamburg, I love you so…

We’ve got a little over half an hour left on the show when the bell rings, so we start with a little bit of stalling before Thatcher tried to end it early with a key lock… only for Bones to help guide Ivan Kiev to the ropes. That feeling out process continued as WALTER tagged in, and not surprisingly Kiev is a little hesitant… but it’s a ruse as WALTER’s taken into the corner and mugged by Kiev and Klinger.

WALTER looked to get things back on track, but a blind tag allowed Klinger to slingshot back in with a spear as two of wXw’s biggest names gave each other no quarter. Timothy Thatcher gets the tag and continues the assault, as RINGKAMPF firmly looked to be in control over RISE. Huge chops from WALTER keep it that way, but a springboard crossbody from Kiev almost snuck them the win… only for WALTER to go back to the chops as Kiev’s found wanting, culminating in a press slam from the ring to the floor.

That leaves Bad Bones 1-on-2 against RINGKAMPF, but once the referee gets distracted by Kiev outside, a low blow sneaks in as Bones tried to steal a pin… but couldn’t even keep Thatcher down for a one-count. Kiev and Klinger continue to wear down Thatcher in the corner, but once Bones gets mouthy, Thatcher tries to hit back, and eventually succeeds with an enziguri as WALTER comes back in.

Kiev and Klinger absorb chops before they double-team WALTER in the ropes, only for the Austrian to hit back and send Kiev flying with a release German and a butterfly suplex. Bones gets some too, but the tide continues to shift, prompting das Power Crowd to rise up against RISE. It works, as WALTER gets up and chops Bones on the top rope ahead of a superplex, but yet again, Bones comes out on top, catching Thatcher in a Rebel lock crossface until WALTER overcomes Ivan Kiev, powerbombing him onto the pile to break up the hold. Ouch.

All four men end up in the ring, ending with WALTER obliterating Kiev with a diving kick, then Bones with a lariat, as the Gojira clutch almost spelled doom… but Bones escapes a pair of them before WALTER accidentally wiped out Thatcher. That miscommunication left WALTER open for a flying lungblower and a leg lariat, but it’s not enough to put him down!

Another fightback ends when WALTER takes a neckbreaker from Kiev, but Bones wants to give Hamburg the (RISE) finger rather than follow up… and they’re made to pay as RINGKAMPF rise like zombies and catch them with duelling Gojira clutches! Kiev gets pounded on again with a back suplex, then a powerbomb, but the Young Lions have made it to ringside to pull out, then punch out referee Markus Weiss!

The crowd chant for Ilja as another RISE mugging took place, but RINGKAMPF get rid of the Lions swiftly… but Tassilo Jung heads out and calls for the bell, awarding the match to RINGKAMPF because of the Lions’ interference. Okay, that was a flat finish, and one that WALTER doesn’t want. He wants the match to restart… and WALTER gets his wish, just as RISE attack them again!

Kiev almost wins the restarted match in quick time with a death valley bomb, but Thatcher kicks out, before catching Ivan with an uppercut as he flew off the top. We’re back to Klinger and WALTER as they tee off on each other some more, before an Emerald Fusion spikes Bones for another near-fall!

There’s more interference as Ivan Kiev holds back the referee as Da Mack hits the ring… I guess he’s only banned from wrestling in Hamburg, and not interfering! That leads to the finish as the Mack Magic cutter leaves Thatcher prone for the Blue Thunder Driver from Klinger… and that’s all for this main event! I perhaps could have done without the stuff that led to the restart, but it’s a motif that RISE has carried throughout some of the house show matches, so I guess it made sense to play it into a match at some point. As for the match, it’s the usual fantastic standard that you expect out of wXw main events… but with just pride on the line, it was tough to get too invested in this. ***¾

The RISE mugging resumes after the match as they were 5-on-2 against RINGKAMPF, with Klinger directing traffic… until Ilja Dragunov hits the ring to clear house! We’re left with Klinger and Dragunov going toe to toe, as a Torpedo Moscau left Bones running for cover.

The Hamburg show ends with an Ilja Dragunov promo, and it’s one of those “I wish I knew German better” moments, as the crowd chanted “next world champ”, before being led in a chant of “Unbesiegbar”. Given how they’ve built up Ilja, I cannot disagree. Could we get the title change in Oberhausen as an early Christmas present… or will we get the equivalent of a lump of coal in a RISE retention?

wXw’s regular stop in Hamburg was a great outing – good wrestling all over the place, a surprisingly fantastic I Quit match (as those matches go with the inherent restrictions), with the one match that perhaps wasn’t up to scratch, the character work (and good crowd reactions) more than made up for it. Perhaps the big takeaway of the night was that RISE continues to stutter – and with the 17th Anniversary show in a matter of weeks, could 2017 end up a really sour note for the invaders that tore apart wXw during the summer?