It’s the curtain-raiser for the Catch Grand Prix Blitzturnier – and a return to Essen as wXw hosts their first Inner Circle in 18 months!
Michael Knight pinned Dennis Dullnig in 11:03 (***)
Norman Harras pinned Levaniel in 16:23 (**¾)
Vincent Heisenberg pinned Anil Marik in 5:50 (**½)
The Rotation pinned Ender Kara in 17:18 (**½)
Goldenboy Santos pinned Tibo Hendrik in 6:35 (***)
Robert Dreissker pinned Akira Francesco in 15:20 (***½)
Well, this one stings a little – a show I was meant to be at last week, but “plans changed”, so I wasn’t one of the 65 there live… and here we are watching the VOD as the Inner Circle provided the curtain raiser for the Catch Grand Prix Blitzturnier. In normal times, the Inner Circle shows are packed as folks await the start of a festival weekend of wrestling… except this time, the festival weekend’s been reduced to one show, which led to an unexpected return to the wXw Academy in Essen for the first show (with fans) since Inner Circle 9 back in March 2020.
Dan Mallman’s live in the Academy, but it’s Dave Bradshaw doing the English commentary as usual. Dave runs down the card, and then it’s off to the races!
Michael Knight vs. Dennis Dullnig
After Tassilo Jung frisbees Dullnig’s bucket hat, we get going without a bell…
Looking for a hold early on, Knight took down Dullnig into a figure four toe hold, which breaks in the ropes, as Dullnig looked to return with a wristlock… only to get monkey flipped away. A side headlock from Dullnig’s broken up, with Knight teasing going for the nipples before he rolled Dullnig to the mat, as another submission attempt ended in the ropes. Knight goes for an O’Connor roll, but Dullnig held on, only to get met with a spinning heel kick, then a wheelbarrow bulldog, before he went back to the Figure Four toe hold. Dullnig manages to roll up Knight for a two-count as he began his comeback, grounding Knight ahead of a bow-and-arrow hold attempt that got to the ropes before Dullnig could pull Knight up.
Dullnig keeps going with a floatover suplex for a near-fall, before he kicked Knight’s leg out of his leg! A nerve hold wears down Knight, then a neck crank, before a leg drop led to another two-count as Dullnig started to dominate… until he’s sent into the corner, where Knight’s clothesline and overhead kick led to a springboard clothesline that turned it around. A discus lariat from Dullnig drops Knight in return, but it’s not enough to get the win, so Dullnig looks for a piledriver, only to get caught with an enziguiri. Sliced Bread’s blocked as Dullnig wasn’t toast yet, returning with a kick instead for a two-count that he swore was enough to get the win…
Going for a running knee, Dullnig gets caught as Knight instead returned with that Sliced Bread… and that, my friends, was enough to toast Dullnig as Knight left Essen with the win. A pretty good opener with Knight starting to stack up wins – while Dullnig put on a good showing in defeat. ***
“Earlier today,” Robert Dreissker was happy to have live wrestling back in the wXw Academy… there’s a training seminar going on in the next room, but someone’s at the door. Dreissker answers it, as Norman Harras is there with PTSD from the last time he was with Dreissker here.
There’s someone else at the door, but Robert Dreissker shuts out Vincent Heisenberg, because they’re not on any kind of speaking terms. Straight out of Shotgun, was that whole skit…
Levaniel vs. Norman Harras
Last time he was here, Levaniel was Absolute Andy… don’t ask. This time, he’s enamoured to be back in an intimate setting… even if he’s wrestling someone who’s tried to cheapshot him before.
Harras takes Levaniel into the corner to start, then came in with a headlock takedown before a shoulder block helped bully Levaniel into the corner. After the restart, Harras works an overhead wristlock on Levaniel, taking him down to the mat with a handful of hair, before Levaniel returned the favour as he took Harras into the corner. They head outside with Levaniel landing some chops, before Harras rolled across the ring to escape his opponent. It ends up suckering Levaniel into the ropes, as he’s hung up then thrown into the ring post, but Levaniel countered, running Harras into the buckles before Harras just threw him down.
Harras gets back inside and put the boots to Levaniel, but knees and uppercuts turn it around, only for Harras to swivel free and hit a forearm to the lower back. A big boot knocks Levaniel over the top to the floor, where he followed up with a back suplex onto the edge of the ring. Back inside, Harras’ stomps amount to nought because the ref wouldn’t count a pin, and before too long Levaniel’s fighting free and hits a low dropkick to a kneeling Harras. Norman doesn’t fall too far behind as he leans in on Levaniel with a chinlock, taking him down to the mat in a side headlock as he looked for a stoppage… but then opted to just club Levaniel in the back.
In the end, Levaniel struck back with a butterfly suplex, following in with uppercuts before a spinning heel kick took Norman down… Harras heads up top after throwing some elbows, then misses a diving uppercut as Levaniel capitalised with a suplex to get him a near-fall. From there, Harras tries the uppercut again, and lands it, but Levaniel still kicks out… so Harras comes in with a dropkick, only to mouth off to the crowd as a clothesline turned it back around. Harras rolls outside to try and take the sting out of things. Levaniel followed, but he gets thrown into a locker. With Levaniel being checked on by the ref, Harras grabs some bolt cutters from the locker, but of course Tassilo Jung confiscated them. Problem was, it meant he missed a low blow that Harras used to counter out of an Intergalactic Facebuster, and it’s enough for Norman to get the win as he pled his innocence afterwards. A little long, but a good story was told here with Harras finding his way to victory. **¾
Post-match, Dan interviews Norman, who feigns ignorance about the whole bolt cutter thing, before saying that he was fed up with being “torn apart” because he’s been left without his “baby” (the Shotgun title).
We get clips of how Vincent Heisenberg attacked Anil Marik at the 20th Anniversary show last month… and the subsequent events in Bielefeld that led to the challenge for this match, which was apparently meant to have been part of the longer weekend of the Catch Grand Prix. Instead, we’re getting it in the wXw Academy.
Backstage, Andy Jackson’s with Anil Marik and Robert Dreissker… they talk about how Dreissker kept Heisenberg out of the building earlier, before Marik noted that the pair are coming full circle.
Anil Marik vs. Vincent Heisenberg
Marik came out the curtain, whereas Heisenberg came in through the back door, because he wasn’t allowed into the building earlier. Good continuity.
Marik sent Dreissker to the back before the bell, and we get going with Marik clocking Heisenberg with enziguiris, taking him into the corner for some mounted punches. Heisenberg shoves him away, then blocked a Slingblade, only to get dropkicked outside as Marik’s plancha is turned into a slam onto the edge of the ring. Back inside, Heisenberg swats down Marik, as the Hamburg native controlled the pace, leading to a clothesline out of the corner for a two-count. A mounted sleeper from Marik’s easily broken up in the corner, as Heisenberg regains the upper hand, throwing chops for fun as Marik was just being overwhelmed.
A Biel throw takes Marik across the ring, but he sidesteps a charge as Heisenberg was starting to have problems… an Alabama Slam’s blocked in the ropes as Heisenberg eats a Codebreaker, then another, before a crossbody from Marik was caught and turned into a Fire Thunder Driver for the win. Short, but sweet as Heisenberg blitzed through his former tag partner. **½
Post-match, Dan tries to interview Heisenberg, who cackled as he said today marked the end of Anil Marik. Dan asks about Maggot and Baby Allison, but Heisenberg laughs it off and leaves via the back door.
Promo for the Blitztournier – a show that wXw is releasing in two parts because of how long it was. A hearty thank you from myself, even if I’ll be covering those shows on a delay…
Backstage, Ender Kara’s with Andy Jackson. He’s wrestling the Rotation for the third time, hoping to avoid another defeat. He flat out threatens an assassination, and is going to be “all serious” in doing that because he has no idea what happens next if he loses…
Ender Kara vs. The Rotation
Rotation’s beaten Ender Kara twice on the empty arena shows…
Kara looks to control the pace early, rolling Rotation to the mat in search of a chinlock, before a front facelock was fought out of with Rotation countering back with a hammerlock of his own en route to a takedown. After getting a rope break, Kara rolls Rotation down for a pin, but Rotation keeps going as the pair exchange pinning attempts, leading to a backslide, a sunset flip and another Magistral for a near-fall. Rotation blocks a crucifix pin to put an end to the exchanges, as the pair’s staredown was broken with the offer of a handshake.
Rotation’s offer is kicked away, as Kara then looked to play him at his own game, before the aggression was upped, with Kara hitting a pair of low dropkicks for a near-fall. Headscissors from Rotation and a dropkick have Kara on the back foot, ahead of a running shooting star press that nearly ends it, while Rotation’s trip up top was for nought as Kara rolled away into the opposite corner. Instead, Rotation trips up Kara and ties up the legs, but Rotation has to headstand out of a counter, before coming back in with a modified cravat on the Swede. That’s turned into a side Russian legsweep as Rotation stretches out Kara on the mat… Kara escapes and briefly grabbed a front facelock, only for Rotation to escape… and get caught in an Octopus stretch.
Rotation falls into the ropes to break up the hold – and crotch Kara too – but Kara’s back to his feet first with some kicks, blasting through Rotation’s chest and back ahead of a PK for a two-count. Catching a kick, Rotation chops Kara into the corner, following up with a dropkick, then a cartwheel off the top as Kara’s then met with another dropkick for good measure. Heading outside, Kara baits Rotation, but the switcheroo’s stopped as Rotation heads up for a springboard armdrag, taking Kara back outside for a step-up flip senton. Back inside, Rotation gets a two-count, before a tiltawhirl was countered into a reverse DDT by Kara, who almost nicked it right here and then.
Kara goes up top for a double stomp, but Rotation rolled away before he pulled up Kara into a Twister suplex for another two-count… a Victory over Gravity from Rotation’s aborted, as the pair exchange more strikes, with a head kick looking to KO the Rotation… but both men get back to their feet to trade shots, leading to the Rotation swinging and grabbing onto the rafters to avoid a dropkick from Kara! From there, Rotation followed up with more strikes, before a cradle drew a two-count… with a second inside cradle snatching the win as Kara kicked out just too late. This one seemingly ran on too long, and while I can buy the finish of another inside cradle catching Kara off guard, this probably could have done with having a few minutes shaved off of it. **½
Akira Francesco’s backstage with Andy Jackson, introduced as the former AJPW Junior Heavyweight champion. Francesco’s happy to be here, but knows all about Dreissker, having watched him as a fan… but reckons his learnings in Japan stand him in good stead for his main event.
But first, we’ve an introduction, as Thommy Giesen calls out Robert Dreissker. No, not for a fight… instead, Dreissker has some news for the crowd. The wXw Wrestling Academy has been open again, and the first wrestling show in the building since March 2020 is the site of a new graduate in the form of Tibo Hendrik. He’d wrestled some matches for wXw as part of the German Comic Con in Dortmund earlier this year, but it’s a formal “welcome” to wXw for the Belgian here.
Usually, it’d be the head coach who’d wrestle the debutant, but instead Tibo’ll be facing a returning hero in Goldenboy Santos – whose past 18 months had been stop-start thanks to Covid regulations. Santos is still the Academy Cup holder, and gets a lovely reaction from the Essen crowd.
Tibo Hendrik vs. Goldenboy Santos
Santos was a baddy last time here, but you can’t be mad at someone who’s been away for that long.
We open with a lock-up as Hendrik’s taken into the corner… then switched around as the Belgian returned the favour. Santos works the arm and wrist though, rolling with Hendrik’s attempt to break free, before Hendrik finally worked his way free and rolled into a pinning attempt. Santos kicks out at two, then floated over Hendrik in the corner as an uppercut took down the Belgian… but Santos looked to tweak his knee on that. Nevermind, the Portugal native shrugged it off to hit a gutwrench suplex, before Hendrik tries to fight back… and got slammed for a two-count.
Santos’ knee gives out as he ran the ropes, but Hendrik showed no mercy with a low dropkick to it, before he looked to hyperextend it… the hold’s kicked away, but Hendrik yanks him down with a Dragon screw before going back to the hyperextension. A battle over a suplex is won by Santos, who looked to finish off the Belgian, eventually hitting a death valley driver for a near-fall. Hendrik barely kicked out of that, but finds enough in him to hit a bridging German suplex for a two-count, before a trip up top ended with him getting caught with a Midas Touch clothesline for the win. Hendrik showed some good heart, but this was always going to be the Goldenboy’s big night back, despite that knee injury scare. Onwards and upwards for both men! ***
Post-match, Dan interviews Santos… but Santos takes the mic and puts over the wXw Academy before telling us that Goldenboy “has come to stay.”
We’ve a video package hyping up the Cara Noir/Marius al-Ani title match that’ll be a part of the Blitzturnier show, mentioning that the last man to beat Marius was… Cara Noir. Can lightning strike twice in Oberhausen?
Backstage again, Andy Jackson’s with Robert Dreissker again, who’s happy that the Academy was able to welcome a debutant and a returnee in the prior match. Talk turns to Dreissker’s match with Akira Francesco, as Dreissker mentioned his return to Europe after his stint in Japan back in the day.
Robert Dreissker vs. Akira Francesco
Needless to say, this was the good Italian boy’s debut in wXw…
We start with a lock-up as Akira’s taken into the ropes, before Dreissker charged him down. A side headlock from Dreissker keeps Akira down, before a leapfrog and a dropkick got Akira free… even if he had to quickly roll away from a back senton as Dreissker tried to hit back instantly. Francesco offers a Test of Strength, but kicks Dreissker in the gut… before he low bridged the Austrian onto the apron ahead of a handspring elbow to knock him to the floor. A low-pe follows, but Akira took too long to follow Dreissker back into the ring and was caught with a splash for a near-fall.
Elbows knock Akira into the corner, where an avalanche splash followed. A second one’s blocked as Akira leaps over him, but a goddamn dropkick surprises the Italian for a near-fall, before a snapmare and a chinlock kept Akira in bother. Francesco gets free, but is quickly flapjack’d as Dreissker continued to dominate, Biel’ing Akira into the corners for fun. Calling Akira out, Dreissker waits for him to get up… and gets met with forearms as the Italian mustered a comeback… flipping out of a back suplex to hit an enziguiri before a back elbow dropped Francesco down to the mat again. Akira counters a suplex to take down Dreissker, then followed with uppercuts in the corner that sparked another exchange of strikes, leading to a springboard missile dropkick that took Dreissker back outside.
Dreissker’s met with an Orihara moonsault on the floor, then a Meteora to the back of the head back in the ring, but it’s not enough for the win, as Akira then hit the ropes… and ran into a chokeslam. A back senton’s next, before a half crab looked to get Dreissker the win… but Akira’s able to drag himself to the ropes to keep this one going. Dreissker stays on top with a fallaway slam as he looked to be in the finishing stretch, but his Dreissker Bomb misses, with Akira following with more knees as Dreissker was in the corner. A moonsault almost nicks the win for the Italian, who followed with yet more running double knees for a near-fall, before an exchange of forearms and chops led to Dreissker blocking another knee strike as he then waffled Akira with a lariat.
Somehow, Akira kicks out at one, but Dreissker’s had enough and puts him down with a death valley driver for a near-fall, before the Dreissker Bomb lands for the win. A plucky effort in defeat from Francesco, who came close towards the end, but it was the size and experience difference that paid dividends on the night. ***½
While the circumstances meant that this wasn’t going to be one of the packed Inner Circles that we’re used to, wXw took the opportunity to showcase their current crop of talent in a familiar setting. If you’ve only time to cherry pick, make damn sure you watch the main event, in addition to the touching return of Santos…