wXw kicked off World Tag Team Festival weekend with the Inner Circle – and a cracker of a match between Fuminori Abe and Masha Slamovich.

Quick Results
Orsi pinned Jacob Crane in 5:06 (**½)
Kevin Ku pinned Danny Miles in 9:36 (***¼)
Gulyas Jr. pinned AKIRA in 14:14 (***)
Joe Keys & Dante Cabellero pinned Danny Fray & Elijah Blum in 7:05 (**¾)
Fuminori Abe submitted Masha Slamovich in 10:22 (****½)
Killer Kelly & Shazza McKenzie pinned Iva Kolasky & Ava Everett in 9:56 (**¾)
Icarus pinned Dominic Garrini in 8:08 (***½)
Shigehiro Irie pinned Peter Tihanyi in 11:57 (***½)

— If you want to catch this before it’s uploaded to Peacock/WWE Network, head over to wXwNOW.com

It’s the first time that the Inner Circle’s come to the new wXw Wrestling Academy in Gelsenkirchen… based out of the Gelsenkirchen Fight Club, which has amazing facilities (which we’ll cover more on the Auf Die Fresse podcast later this month). It’s also really bloody hot, as you’ll no doubt see on the VOD. English commentary comes courtesy of Dave Bradshaw and Ahmad DiMassi.

Jacob Crane vs. Orsi
Crane started off by taking Orsi into the corner, trading slaps on the break before Orsi threatened to bodyslam him.

Kicks in the ropes from Crane had Orsi on the back foot, but she’s quickly back with a back elbow and a bodyslam for a one-count. Chops follow as Crane begged off into the corner, but had his attempt at a cheapshot countered with an armdrag before the bodyslam landed again. After distracting the ref, Crane rakes Orsi’s eyes and hit a back suplex for a two-count before a cravat restrained Orsi. A Perfect Driver followed, but Orsi slips free and countered back with a suplex, following up with clotheslines that removed Crane’s bandana… and led him into a back body drop for a two-count.

Crane again grabs the referee, but his attempt at a mule kick’s caught by Orsi, who then ducked an enziguiri before a spear landed for the win. A decent opener, with Orsi getting the deserved W. **½

Danny Miles vs. Kevin Ku
wXw went the extra mile looking through the music library for a damn good sound-alike of Zombie for Ku – which led to the crowd singing along with it.

Miles started with a headlock takedown, which Ku countered out of as they went back-and-forth on the mat, with Miles taking Ku’s back before the ropes saved Ku early on. We’re quickly in with chops before Ku caught a leapfrog… then spun Miles down with a kitchen sink knee. A field goal kick lands from Ku, before his guillotine ended with Miles charging into the rope… and snapping back to force the break with an innovative use of the ropes. We’ve a chinlock next from Miles, who began to pick his spots… only for Ku to snap back with a cross armbar that Miles rolled his way out of.

Irish whips bounced Ku from corner to corner, then charged in with knees by the ropes, but a roll-up from Ku gets a near-fall before his sorta-Olympic slam took Miles down. A series of corner clotheslines keeps Miles reeling, as did a Tiger suplex that saw Miles flip back on his head for an eventual near-fall. Miles’ roll-up sends Ku into the bottom buckle ahead of a pull-up into a fireman’s carry gutbuster for another near-fall. A Chase Your Dreams rear naked choke from Miles has Ku down to the mat, but he rolls back to force a pin and a break, as Ku returned with a half crab/heel hook.

Ku’s kicked away into the corner, then cradled… but he rolled around for a ref-trolling roll around the ring for no counts, as a double clothesline meant they all fell down. A barrage of strikes from Ku wore out Miles, who was able to uppercut away Ku’s leap off the top, but a Fisherman buster from Ku proved to be too much as a resolute Miles was finally put away. ***¼

Gulyas Jr. vs. AKIRA
It’s a wXw debut for the Death Samurai AKIRA, who was apparently loving his trip to Germany…

Gelsenkirchen seemed to be more behind Gulyas to start as we opened with a wristlock from AKIRA, who then tried to take down the Hungarian. A waistlock didn’t work out either, so AKIRA begins to trade forearms with Gulyas, only to get met with Dusty punches as the big man took him down. A threatened sit-down splash is stopped by AKIRA bridging up, before he managed to take Gulyas down and into the corner… with a roll-through into a key lock leading to a stomp to Gulyas’ elbow. A Fujiwara armbar followed as AKIRA continued to stretch Gulyas, rolling around a variety of holds.

Gulyas fought out, but got headbutted back down before a chop sent him staggering into the corner… where more of those followed. Gulyas’ chops get him free as AKIRA’s sent to the ropes, before AKIRA rolled through a bodyslam attempt and went back to the armbar. A Lebell Lock’s next, then some knees to the shoulders as a Muta Lock continued the variety of moves, with Gulyas getting to the ropes for freedom. Elbowing AKIRA away allowed Gulyas to return with a big boot for a two-count, while a back elbow into the corner allowed him to set up for a superplex… but AKIRA headbutts him away, then flew with a missile dropkick… only for Gulyas to return with a dropkick of his own. The bad elbow’s thrown at AKIRA, who replies with a back fist… only to get caught and charged into the corner ahead of a missed cannonball.

A running kick from AKIRA, then an enziguiri in the corner had Gulyas back on the back foot, but Gulyas is able to return and hit that cannonball for a near-fall. More strikes from AKIRA have Gulyas on the deck again for a PK, leading to a back senton off the top for a two-count. Head kicks and a German suplex pushed AKIRA nearer the win, as he then grounded Gulyas for another PK… but Gulyas pops up for a Michinoku driver for a near-fall. AKIRA goes back to the rolling cross armbar, but Gulyas rolls his way out and powerbombed his way to freedom, then collapsed onto AKIRA, folding him down for the match-winning pin. Live, this one didn’t land with me, but on tape it picked up a little with the commentary selling AKIRA throwing the kitchen sink (almost literally) – a little more focus on the offence could have changed things big time here. ***

Boricua Boys (Dante Caballero & Joe Keys) vs. Danny Fray & Elijah Blum
It’s a big test for the Academy pairing of Fray and Blum, as Keys and Caballero would go on to play a pretty notable role over the weekend…

Keys and Fray start us off, locking up and heading into the corner, with Keys swinging for a punch that was ducked. A side headlock from Keys was broken, but he went for Fray’s hair before the pair tried out shoulder blocks… ending with Fray winning on a hiptoss and a slam. Elijah Blum comes in to hit his part of a double back elbow for a two-count, before Keys scarpered and tagged in Caballero. A side headlock from Dante’s pushed away allowing Blum to hit an armdrag and a dropkick, before a neckbreaker drew a two-count. Keys knees Blum in the ropes, before an O’Connor roll led to Caballero launching Blum into Keys on the apron.

More interference from Keys led to a nice clothesline that had Blum bump off of Caballero’s back, before a double stomp from Keys landed on a prone-over-the-knees of Cabellero Blum. The Boricua Boys continued to dominate Blum, but they go for the same thing too often, and Blum’s able to counter out, hit a back body drop… then tag in Fray! Fray goes wild with clotheslines, then scored a sidewalk slam on Dante for a near-fall as Keys broke up the count… then chucked Blum into the ring post. That left Fray on his own as Caballero punched Fray with his belt, before a dropkick-aided German suplex from Keys allowed the Boricua Boys to get the win in a damn good tag match for the time they had – and the academy lads more than did their bit here too. **¾

Masha Slamovich vs. Fuminori Abe
This was the only advertised match on the bill – and a surprise to see it in the first-half main event slot.

Slamovich goes for the arm early, spinning Abe down, but he quickly gets back up… only to get taken back down by the arm as he then took the mount, and get quickly put on the defensive. Headscissors from Abe are floated out of by Masha, before the pair began to throw strikes. Chops, slaps and kicks to the back were just the start of it, as Masha hit a clothesline off the ropes to take Abe down. A front kick from Abe knocks Masha off the apron as we spill outside, where Abe snapmared and punted Slamovich in the back, before she returned the favour. Masha meets the wall, as did Abe’s fist, before he threw her into the ring steps to try and regain control.

Back inside, Abe gets a couple of two-counts, then began to throw headbutts as Masha was having to dig deep to stay in this. A Kimura from Abe is broken by some biting, which he returned the favour on, as it’s back to the bati-bati strikes. An up kick from Slamovich takes Abe to the corner for a front kick and a wild clothesline, but a low dropkick has Masha back at square one. Abe’s spinning kick traps Masha in the corner, leading to a snapmare and another PK to the back, while the kick-out from the cover allowed Abe to pounce with an ankle lock. The ropes nearly saved Masha, but a leg-trapped German suplex flung her… only for her to return with a back suplex seconds later… which Abe returned with the Irubu punch as both fell to the mat.

We’re back to the bati-bati, with Masha scoring an axe kick and a Shining Wizard for a near-fall… a German suplex keeps it going, as the pair go back to elbows and strikes, before Masha’s headbutt earned her a punch to the head… leading to a manjigatame that forced the submission for Abe. Absolutely breathless stuff, and not because of the heat! At ten minutes, this was a bloody good sprint, and everything you’d have hoped for! ****½

Ava Everett & Iva Kolasky vs. Killer Kelly & Shazza McKenzie
It’s a return to wXw for Killer Kelly in this match – with a fantastic reaction for her…

Shazza starts by taking Iva into the corner… with the Hungarian pushing back as her attempt at cheating ended with an armdrag from McKenzie out of the corner. A front facelock from McKenzie grounded Kolasky, who tried one of her own before Shazza scored a crucifix pin for a two-count. McKenzie keeps up the pinning attempts, coming close on a seatbelt pin, before tags brought us to Ava and Kelly. Kelly goes straight for the Tim Thatcher-esque palm strikes to Everett, who’s then cornered for the Shades of Shibata for a one-count. Shazza’s back to help on a double suplex, then an armdrag as Ava headed outside for respite.

There’s arguments between Iva and Ava, but it’s a ruse as a blatantly-illegal tag distracted McKenzie, allowing the “Y2-Cuties” to build some offence on McKenzie, isolating her in the corner as they went. McKenzie tries to fight free, but couldn’t get out of the corner as Ava then charged across the ring to knock Kelly off the apron. McKenzie’s kept in the corner as a chinlock from Kolasky was eventually fought out of, before an O’Connor roll from Kolasky got a near-fall… but also had her knock Ava off the ropes from the kick-out. McKenzie’s able to find her way to the corner to tag in Kelly, as Ava got the tag in too… but Everett’s bouncing for clotheslines and a suplex that nearly won it for Kelly.

Cravat knees from Kelly, then the Vale da Morte looked to follow… but Kolasky blind-tags in as Kelly hit a twisting brainbuster of sorts to Ava. Iva tries to cheapshot her way into things, but eats some capture headbutts, before the Vale de Morte got the win. A good win for Kelly on her return in a match all based around that W. **¾

Icarus vs. Dominic Garrini
The first time this weekend the opening bars of the AMBOSS theme blew you away as we had a group B preview for World Tag Team Festival here.

Garrini took Icarus down early as the Hungarian scurried into the ropes for a break. Icarus comes back, with a hint of going for the hair, but Garrini again took him down as the ropes saved the Arrow of Hungary. It’s becoming a theme as a leg lock has Icarus dragging himself to the ropes, while a Kimura as Icarus was on the apron allowed him to force a break… by choking Garrini with the tag rope. Back inside, Icarus took over with an armbar, before he wheeled away on Garrini with hammer blows. A stinging chop keeps Garrini in the corner, but Dominic returns the favour, only to get chopped in the back as a neckbreaker drew a two-count. Garrini elbowed Icarus away ahead of a German suplex and a running kick into the corner, before a snap powerbomb planted Icarus for a near-fall.

Icarus is rolled into a Boston crab, but he escapes and found a way back with a springboard enziguiri… before the Meltdown senton bomb earned a near-fall. A Heart of Europe submission attempt’s broken by Garrini, who wipes out Icarus with a clothesline… while a rear naked choke almost forced a stoppage. A suckerpunchs lap from Icarus earns a response, with Garrini taking him into the ropes for a knee to the back, while a Last of the Dragon almost forced the win… with Icarus reaching his foot out onto the middle rope to stop the cover. A lovely false-finish there! Garrini goes back to the rear naked choke, but Icarus charges into the corner, then rolled back on him still in the hold to force the pin… and that’s a by-the-skin-of-the-teeth win for AMBOSS there. ***½

Peter Tihanyi vs. Shigehiro Irie
Our main event’s a big test for Tihanyi – which’d become a theme for him this weekend.

Irie starts with a wristlock to Tihanyi, whio slipped out… and got taken down in a side headlock. We reset as a lock-up allowed Tihanyi to go for the arm, but Irie reverses into a wristlock, only for a headlock takedown from Tihanyi to break it up. Another side headlock from Irie is pushed off, but he charges down Tihanyi before the Hungrian came back with armdrags and chops. A leapfrog and a dropkick keeps Tihanyi ahead, as chops took Irie into the corners ahead of a chinlock. More chops end with Irie crashing into Tihanyi in the ropes, ahead of a slam and that see-saw splash for a near-fall.

Tihanyi throws a forearm as he looked to strike back, but Irie swats him down only to get met with a chop. A forearm decks Tihanyi and nearly forced a stoppage, before a snap brainbuster planted Tihanyi for a near-fall. Irie avoids a dropkick from Tihanyi and came back with a sit-out splash for a near-fall, while a sleeperhold looked to shut the door on things. Tihanyi’s springboard Meteora offered some hope, but Irie’s out at two before he’s low bridged to the outside for a tope. Quickly returning to the ring, Tihanyi strikes Irie in the corner ahead of a tornado DDT that’s pushed off, as Irie’s sidewalk slam cut off that momentum. Irie heads up top, but Tihanyi got the knees up to avoid a splash.

Irie’s up first though as the pair trade forearms once more, but it’s Irie’s elbows that won out, only for Tihanyi to sneak in a swinging DDT for a near-fall. A standing Shiranui’s pushed off as Irie scored a running elbow to the side of the head to nearly win the match. Irie misses a cannonball into the corner, then avoided a 450 splash as Tihanyi’s taken into the ropes and squashed as Irie damn near went through the ropes with a flip cannonball to the Hungarian. One life-flashing-before-my-eyes later, Irie’s back in the ring to hit a Beast Bomber… and that’s your lot! A good showing for Tihanyi, but Irie’s big strikes were just too much on this night. ***½

I’ll quit poking fun at just how damn hot it was in that room – enough to raise your standing heart rate by quite a bit – but this was a really good curtain raiser for Tag Festival weekend, giving enough of a sneak peek without tipping too much off of what was to follow. Definitely a show to go out of your way to see on wXwNOW – and keep that subscription live for the rest of the weekend’s shows!