David Starr’s quest to defeat WALTER produced sadly-familiar results as wXw’s second trip to London this year put that “card subject to change” disclaimer to use with great results.

With injuries forcing a shake-up to the card in the week building up to the show, wXw were forced into another late change as Jurn Simmons pulled out through illness… and it’s that change that opens the show as David Starr starts with an in-ring promo, bemoaning how he found out via Twitter, rather than text or any other way.

Starr’s looking for a new match since he can’t win the tag titles tonight, so he figures that beating WALTER is the next best thing. He’s come so close, and begs for a shot… Christian Michael Jakobi grants him the match, and so we have a hell of a match in the making!

We’ve got Sebastian Hollmichel and Christian Michael Jakobi on the German call, whilst Alan Counihan and Jeremy Graves are doing the English commentary.

Chris Brookes vs. Lucky Kid
With the Wolf still hurt, the planned CCK vs. RINGKAMPF title match was off, so we got the Calamari Catch King against Lucky Kid. Hey, it meant we got a RISE entrance (of sorts), and another chance to see the rather creepy one… who gets serenaded with one of Kylie Minogue’s finest.

Lucky Kid’s being all weird to start us off, finally going through on his threats by licking away a chop from Brookes. Who replies as you’d expect… with a wet willie. An attempt at a plancha from Lucky Kid ends up with him eating a big boot on the floor as Brookes looked to take control, despite Kid’s attempt to break up an armbar by picking Chris’ nose.

A handspring back elbow gets Kid back in it, but an ultra-arrogant single-handed cover doesn’t come close to getting the job done. Nor does Kid using Chris Brookes’ own Octopus stretch, complete with some joint manipulation to get him to do the RISE finger. Tassilo Jung gets some finger treatment too, but he’s not one for becoming a part of any group…

A swift comeback from Brookes sees him flatten Lucky Kid with a back senton, before we enter dive territory courtesy of a flip senton from Lucky Kid right in front of us. Brookes returns the favour, before hitting the Whiplash neckbreaker for a near-fall. The match descended into back-and-forth forearms as they went in search of a win, with Brookes’ slingshot cutter almost getting the pin.

An Asai DDT almost does it for Lucky Kid, but Brookes wasn’t going down lightly, and after kicking out of a wheelbarrow, a trapped-leg German suplex set up for a double underhook piledriver… and the Best Boy gets the win! A heck of an opener, which keeps up RISE’s stuttering run, and re-establishes Brookes after largely being gone from wXw this year. Just as well really, since he announced himself as being part of 16 Carat Gold next year after the match! ***¼

Emil Sitoci vs. Marius al-Ani
We may not have had any signs, but London were not big fans of Emil Sitoci. He’ll get over it…

Life after Andy continued for Marius here as he was forced to wait for Emil to engage… and when they did, it was pretty even stuff as Sitoci just about edged out an exchange of flying armdrags. Next time around, al-Ani bossed things, taking Emil into an armbar, before trapping Sitoci in the corner for a sweet back heel kick ahead of a monkey flip that Sitoci landed face-first on. Sitoci tried to respond by working over Marius on the apron, before ducking another leaping kick and sneaking in a neckbreaker for a two-count. Sleazy Sitoci was all over the crowd’s attempts to get behind Marius, snuffing out any attempts of a comeback as he kept al-Ani on the mat.

Marius finally mounted some offence, nearly wiping out a fan with his swing between the ropes before bursting into the sunset flip, kip-up and Exploder combination, before charging a knee into Emil’s gut ahead of a ‘rana attempt… that goes wrong as he’s dropped from the self-imposed Electric Chair into the ropes.

Regardless, al-Ani keeps up with a spinning heel kick, before properly spiking Sitoci with a tornado DDT, before his attempt at a frog splash was cruelly cut out when Sitoci knocked him off the ropes. A gutbuster sees Sitoci get the chance to head up top for an elbow drop, but that’s only good for a two-count, as was the Snapmare Driver, before Sitoci ended up getting shoved away from a superplex.

Conveniently enough, he lands in place for a frog splash, which Marius seemed to get more than a hint of Emil’s knees on impact, but it was enough to get the win. Life after A4 continues to be good in terms of results, but this was a fun outing as both men looked extremely competitive. There’s good things ahead for both Emil and Marius, I feel… ***

Michael Dante vs. Avalanche
Time for a spot of Big Lads Wrestling now as Michael Dante made his first appearance in London for over 18 months, having been gone from PROGRESS since their inaugural Atlas title tournament. That led to a rather split crowd, with Dante having some fans from those days.

We started with all the shoulder tackles as that ring bloody moved every time they hit the ropes, before Avalanche threw in a roll to break things up as he took Dante into the corner for an aborted cannonball. Dante rolled to the floor for cover, but he was joined as they decided to take it into the crowd, bringing all the right hand shots. Avalanche misses a charge, sending himself into the ring post, giving Dante something to take advantage of… but it barely amounted to a two-count back inside. Out of nowhere, Avalanche ducked a ripcord and squashed Dante with a Samoan drop, then a pumphandle slam for a near-fall.

Avalanche took too long setting up for the Dreissker Bomb, and took a powerbomb for his troubles as Dante followed up with an over-the-knee brainbuster for another two-count. However, Avalanche quickly hit back with a clothesline before obliterating the Dutchman with a cannonball before hitting a Dreissker Bomb for the win. Fun stuff between two of wXw’s monsters – a little on the short side, but really enjoyable for what they did. Given Avalanche is the regular, the win gives him more steam into whatever direction they’re planning on with him. ***

David Starr vs. WALTER
Well, this was special. In front of one of the hottest crowds that I can remember… this was glorious stuff. The continued story going in was that David Starr was getting more and more anxious over being unable to beat WALTER, and right from the off he was trying to shoot for the Austrian’s legs… which didn’t really work, as WALTER was able to stuff those attempts and just maneuver Starr around the ring with ease.

Starr thought he’d try and chop WALTER down to size. Yeah, that wasn’t working either, as WALTER’s chops were a lot harder… and louder. Basically, anything Starr tried in the opening stages was having limited success at best, before WALTER decided that it was more fun trying to cave in the Product’s chest. It certainly kept the man of a billion nicknames at bay, but even when he went to the outside for cover, the giant that is WALTER just followed him to keep up the slaughter.

Starr was able to turn the tide a little, wrenching over WALTER’s arm in the ropes, but the chops just didn’t stop… even if it meant the Austrian making contact with the ringpost instead. That gave the Product an opening, which WALTER tried to snuff out with a big German suplex, only to get caught with a Cherry Mint DDT from Starr. The comeback brutally ended when Starr slipped off the middle turnbuckles with a clothesline and found himself instantly powerbombed as he was back in familiar territory in terms of taking a beating. A missed dropkick from WALTER gave Starr another window of opportunity, but after coming close with a Shining Wizard, WALTER murders him with a second dropkick… and it’s back to square one for David!

We’re back to the chops, which was never going to be a good idea for Starr, but he was able to fire up with some blows before… yup. Another chop. A Violence Party takes WALTER into the corner as the sweat flew off of the Austrian’s back, only for Starr to surprise us with a JML Driver after taking a vicious shotgun dropkick into the corner.

After trying to beat WALTER with one of his own moves – the RINGKAMPF German suplex off the ropes – Starr tried his luck with an O’Connor roll, before WALTER pulled him into a rear naked choke from the kick-out… but still, Starr fought on! At least until he ate another lariat, and that was enough as WALTER won out in a thrilling contest. This was excellent, excellent wrestling – and a match that in any other year would be really high up on those subjective match of the year ballots! ****¾

Nina Samuels vs. Toni Storm
Having won Femmes Fatales at the start of the month, Toni Storm’s the top contender to the as-yet-uncrowned wXw Women’s Champion… going up against a debuting Nina Samuels. Unfortunately, once the crowd was done singing the next line of Toni’s theme music, there was really only one favourite in this match.

Storm bossed this one early, keeping Samuels grounded as cross armbreakers looked to be Toni’s weapon of choice. Whenever Nina did get a chance to break in, Storm easily escaped, which led to her taking Samuels to the outside for a tope. Back inside the tide changes when Toni misses a hip attack into the corner, but Nina’s offence culminates in a Mr Perfect-esque neck snap, getting her a near-fall.

Nina then went for some hip attacks, mocking Toni in the process, but it led to her getting rolled up as the Aussie mounted a comeback, snapping Samuels into the corner with a suplex, before returning fire with those hip attacks. A tiltawhirl backbreaker cuts off Storm’s offence, as did a big boot, before Storm escaped a Go To Sleep and returned with a ripcord roundhouse kick as the match headed to a climax.

Samuels back body drops out of a Strong Zero piledriver, but she quickly runs into a back cracker as Storm got the Strong Zero off regardless for the win. Decent enough, but this was a match that almost went on too long given the relative standings of the two. That’s not a bad thing, but it was always going to be a struggle to have this crowd believing that Nina would have much of a chance. **¾

Mark Haskins vs. Ilja Dragunov
Aww, they edited out Alan appearing ahead of Haskins on the stage! This too was something special as Ilja was making his London debut (and only his second appearance in the UK). It’s fair to say that the Dome took to the 16 Carat Gold winner with the greatest of ease.

Duelling chants of “unbesiegbar”/”This is Haskins” greeted the start of this one, as both men swung and missed in the early stages before Haskins started to connect with his kicks. In response, Ilja threw a spinning back-handed chop, before throwing all of the chops. Some misdirection allowed Haskins to take the Russian outside for a dive, where he returned fire, only for Ilja to pretty much chop him back into the ring.

Dragunov dove back out though, and quickly regained the upper hand, squashing Haskins with a back senton before peppering Haskins with some clotheslines. A brutal knee to Haskins, who looked to be going for a takedown, dropped the former PROGRESS champion for a two-count, before Ilja shrugged off a flurry from Haskins and went back to the chops. So much so in fact, that Haskins eventually screamed out to “stop fucking chopping me!”

A missed enziguiri gave Haskins the opportunity to trap Ilja in the Star Armbar, but Dragunov makes it to the ropes, and quickly responds with a full nelson backbreaker that gets a near-fall. So much hard-hitting, so much intensity – this was Ilja at his peak!

Haskins cuts off a Torpedo Moscau with a low dropkick, before rolling him up for a Samoan driver… which gets a near-fall and another superkick for Ilja. More chops leads Ilja into the Chernobyl Bomb – his name for a Blue Thunder Bomb – before he headed up top for a super back senton! Haskins rebounds with a superkick and a roll-up sharpshooter, but Dragunov rolled out and dumped him with a back suplex into the corner, as Torpedo Moscau earned him the win!

Yep. Had we not had Starr/WALTER earlier, this would have stolen match-of-the-night. Nevertheless, this was phenomenally good: Ilja Dragunov coming to a new audience, winning them over and doing what he does best. Is it any wonder he’s loved so? ****¼

Yes. That is the Northern version of Cossack dancing in London.

Mark Davis vs. Timothy Thatcher
A surprise appearance for Dunkzilla here, who was a late replacement for Jurn Simmons and the ensuing card shuffle. We got the debut of the wild double-high fives of death from Davis, and an eyepatch from Thatcher, which was explained away on this week’s Shotgun as being the result of Bobby Gunns stubbing a lit cigarette in his eye.

With Thatcher being so loved (pirate eye-patch and all, y’arr), Davis was pretty much forced to walk the plank and be the bad guy here. He tried to use his size advantage to bull Thatcher into the ropes, but it didn’t quite go to plan… so he punches Timmy down for a two-count. A diving forearm into the corner gets a similar result, but Thatcher mounted a comeback, picking up Dunkzilla for a gutwrench suplex.

A belly-to-belly off the ropes gets Thatcher a little closer, but Davis responds with a kick to take the tag champion down, only for Thatcher to take him down with relative ease with a butterfly suplex. The back and forth continues with a torture rack slam from Davis, who then tried for a powerbomb, but was abruptly taken down into an armbar that he was able to break with an outstretched foot in the ropes.

Another powerbomb attempt sees Davis do it one-handed, but after getting a near-fall, he’s instantly caught in the Fujiwara armbar as Thatcher scored the submission victory. Pretty by-the-numbers, but enjoyable enough for what it was. ***

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Travis Banks vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger (c)
So, this one started off HOT. Banks flew into Bones from the bell and hit a Kiwi Krusher, and pinned him after eight seconds. We have a new champion?!

Not quite. Although the title change was announced, Tassilo Jung didn’t see that Bad Bones had his leg under the bottom rope, with the crowd still in shock at what we’d seen, Rainer Ringer came out from the back to fill in the blanks, so the match restarted.

From the restart, Banks waffled Bones with a PK so hard it spilled someone’s drink, and we began in the crowd as Bones and Banks threw kicks, chops and forearms aplenty. An attempt to throw Banks back into the ring just saw Bad Bones eat a couple of low-pes from the challenger, before cutting off a third one with a slingshot spear back into the ring. Serenaded by chants of “John Klinger sucks” (to the Cena chant) and “alle außer Bones” (“anyone but Bones” – hey, don’t be too shocked that a German chant made it to the show; there were quite a few who’d made the trip over from Germany for this show), the champion put the boots to the PROGRESS champion, followed by a sunset bomb into the bottom turnbuckle for a near-fall.

An exchange of chops and forearms put Banks back in front, as the two went tit-for-tat, culminating in a Kiwi Destroyer from Travis?! Some kicks to the back of Bones left the champion reeling, as did a huge cannonball into the corner, before Bones hit back in the hardest way possible – a Falcon arrow onto the apron!

Some low-pes from Bones followed, but Banks hit back with a springboard double stomp for a near-fall, before his Slice of Heaven’s turned into a lungblower for a near-fall. Out of nowhere, Bones gets caught in the Lion’s Clutch, but before Bones could tap, Lucky Kid comes out and causes a distraction. Banks lets go of the hold, before getting kicked low and rolled up for a two-count. Nope, that RISE distraction is not going to work. Yet.

Banks manages to break away and hit a second Slice of Heaven, which Lucky Kid is late in to break up. He’s dispatched to the outside, allowing Bones to hit Travis with his belt for a near-fall as Lucky Kid goes bezerk. Sensing a legitimate title change, the crowd roared behind Banks as he hit a second Kiwi Krusher… but Lucky Kid pulls out the ref, and promptly gets tope’d towards the bar!

Back inside, Banks looked to finish the job, but he ends up getting shoved into Tassilo Jung as Bones hits a double-arm DDT for the win. That was NOT a popular result, but the end of a really good main event that kept Bad Bones’ record of dirty wins intact, and had Travis Banks look strong too. Which is just as well, since he’s joining Chris Brookes in 16 Carat next year! ***¾

After the match, the RISE pair beat down Bank until Chris Brookes made the save. He’s wiped out, as was Kid Lykos. Marius al-Ani comes out, and gets similar treatment, and although the crowd are chanting for Ilja, it’s it’s not until RINGKAMPF make the save as the 6-on-2 advantage paid off. Well, five and a wolf with a wounded paw. Lucky Kid takes everyone’s big moves, and the good guys stand tall!

That’s not how we end the night though, as WALTER waited for the RISE “scum” to leave the building before thanking the crowd, as the show ended with a challenge for wXw’s return to London in March: WALTER wants to face Travis Banks! If that’s not a match that’s whetting your appetite, then I have no idea what will – tickets… bought!

Live, this show was insanely fun to watch live – and that carried over onto the VOD. Just without having to deal with a RINGKAMPF scarf flapping into your face a few times… (sorry Mike!) It’s insane how much the British crowds have taken to wXw, especially given that the UK isn’t exactly starved of wrestling right now. To have two shows sell out in a year, from a company based in another country that until relatively recently, wasn’t producing anything in the English language is quite the feat. Sure, there may have been the teased title switch that was perhaps too shocking (the reaction it drew live was more stunned silence than excitement, possibly with the crowd figuring that the main event wasn’t really ending after eight seconds).

Yet again, just like World Tag Team League, this card shows that wXw continues to spoil us all when it comes to live shows. March cannot come soon enough!