World Tag Team Festival kicked off with the latest edition of the Inner Circle, featuring Jacob Crane’s attempts to get revenge on Psycho Mike and his Bodyslams.
Hektor Invictus pinned Jordan Oliver in 11:18 (***)
Aaron Rourke & Ava Everett pinned The Rotation & Julia in 10:05 (***)
Patrick Bork submitted Aeron in 4:34 (**¾)
Hyan pinned JC Storm in 9:14 (**¾)
Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe submitted Elijah Blum & Peter Tihanyi in 12:20 (***¾)
Mizuki Watase pinned Danny Fray in 7:23 (***)
Jacob Crane pinned Psycho Mike in 9:30 (***)
Shigehiro Irie pinned 1 Called Manders in 8:57 (***¾)
— If you want to catch this before it’s uploaded to Peacock/WWE Network, head over to wXwNOW.de
That’s another weekend in Oberhausen complete – my tenth trip over there for a festival weekend… which is a scary way to think about a place I’ve only been going to since 2017. Apologies to the fella from the Saturday whose name I completely forgot…
Of course, a weekend of shows means a weekend’s worth of reviews, minus the GCW events since I don’t usually cover those. wXw NOW is releasing this weekend’s events once every couple of days, so we’ll start the drip-feed of reviews here.
Anyway, we’re coming live on tape from the wXw Wrestling Academy in Gelsenkirchen… with English commentary coming from Dave Prazak and Robin Christopher Fohrwerk. That is not a tandem I expected ahead of the weekend…
Jordan Oliver vs. Hektor Invictus
This was a warm-up for Hektor ahead of the tag team festival…
Hektor started by taking Oliver into the corner with a lock-up, before Hektor got to the ropes to break a pumphandle’d abdominal stretch. From the restart, Hektor took Oliver down, but Jordan’s able to pick up the pace as he looked for some quick pins. Hektor went for the wrist, but headscissors from Oliver help get him free ahead of an armdrag that put him in control. Cornering Oliver, Hektor scored with a Dragon screw ahead of a half crab as Oliver was having trouble breaking free. A chinlock’s broken out of as Oliver’s lofty sunset flip earned him a near-fall… but Hektor’s right back with a big boot to put himself back in control.
Oliver gets run into the corner as Hektor continued to kick away at the legs, taking things outside as Jordan took more damage. Back inside, Oliver tries to make a comeback, but runs into a powerslam before Hektor’s springboard moonsault hit nothing. Trying to capitalise, Oliver clubs and chops away on Hektor, before he found a way through with a running front kick into the corner. Oliver lifts Hektor up top for an Acid Bomb, but to no avail as Hektor came back and scored with a moonsault for a near-fall. Oliver manages to escape a powerbomb, countering back with an O’Connor roll before he found a way in with the Cleopatra slingshot cutter. The Acid Bomb’s tried again, and this time it works as Hektor’s almost put away.
Despite a shout-out, Hektor can’t avoid a kick to the midsection as Oliver went for a Clout Cutter… but Hektor side steps it before a powerbomb and the Hektor-Knie got the win. ***
Y2Kuties (Aaron Rourke & Ava Everett) vs. Julia & The Rotation
If you watch all of the wXw shows from this weekend, you’re gonna hear this track a lot. The sound of the weekend… get into it!
After Tassilo Jung had ejected Jacob Crane, then convinced Ava Everett to hand over her title belt (so it couldn’t be a weapon), we got going with Ava and Julia, with the Dutch newcomer scoring with a Thesz press early on. A missile dropkick followed for a two-count, as Rotation tagged in… and used Julia for an assisted splash, following up with a Gedo clutch for a two-count. Aaron Rourke tags in, but gets tied up by Rotation… things head to the corner as Rotation just flips over Rourke, who responds with a shoulder tackle before Rotation took him to the corner for a springboard armdrag. A dropkick and a slapped arse gets Rotation a two-count, as Rourke then returned with an Alabama Slam for a two-count.
Rourke brings in Everett as we’re back to Julia and Ava… a swinging DDT forces Ava to tag out quickly. Julia’s satellite headscissors spin down Rourke for a two-count. A Snake Eyes dumps Julia in the corner as the newcomer finds herself isolated. Ava’s back to land a suplex, then sit on Julia for a two-count… the ref refuses to count after some shenanigans from the Y2Kuties, allowing Julia to recover as Rotation comes back in and cracked Ava with a head kick. A running dropkick from Rotation catches Rourke in the corner ahead of a satellite DDT for a near-fall. Rotation has to abort a Victory Over Gravity attempt, but seconds later he’s caught with a springboard moonsault as Aaron Rourke marked his Germany debut with a win. ***
Aeron vs. Patrick Bork
Aeron’s a graduate of the wXw Wrestling Academy – and only made his debut on the Academy show at the Turbinenhalle earlier this year…
Bork takes the upper hand with a waistlock takedown early on, as a cross armbar attempt led to a roll-up from Aeron. In the corner, Aeron grabs the ropes to force a break from Bork, before an exchange of strikes led to Bork scoring with another takedown. Aeron rebounds off the ropes into a DDT to counter another double-leg takedown, before a running kick and a standing moonsault added a two-count. We’re back to the pair exchanging strikes, with Bork pulling ahead with a Dragon screw and an ankle lock… clinging on until Aeron pushed away.
Bork avoids a double stomp, and pounces on Aeron’s leg again, this time with the ankle lock leading to the submission. **¾
JC Storm vs. Hyan
This was considered a warm-up of sorts for Hyan, who was in Femmes Fatales later on in the weekend…
Hyan takes Storm to the corner early on, before an exchange of takedowns ended with a big shoulder tackle from Hyan. Storm returns the favour, then cheapshotted Hyan from a handshake, only for Hyan to return with a crossbody and a dropkick. Storm’s met with a suplex coming out of the corner, then with some chops to head into the corner as a wacky pumphandle’d Fireman’s carry takedown left Hyan on the proverbial ropes. Chops from Storm led to a chinbreaker, while a Samoan drop gives Storm a two-count as Hyan was firmly on the defensive.
Jockeying over a suplex, Hyan’s able to take down Storm… who ends up tripping Hyan into the ropes for a running kick on the apron. Storm then mocks the crowd by teasing something off the top rope, only to get rolled up by Hyan for a near-fall. Forearms from Hyan soften up Storm, ahead of a crossbody out of the corner… the double leg drop nearly wins it for Hyan, who followed up with a Busaiku knee and an attempt at the Beauty Sleep. Storm rolls out and hits a cutter for a near-fall, before another trip up top ended with Hyan just throwing her out of the corner. A spear follows, before the Beauty Sleep finally landed for the win. **¾
Elijah Blum & Peter Tihanyi vs. Astronauts (Fuminori Abe & Takuya Nomura)
The Astronauts are considered one of, if not the best tag team in wrestling today… so there’s something a little special about their debut being in such an intimate environment like this.
Abe and Tihanyi start us off, trading wristlocks and escapes as we built to a stand-off. Armdrags from Tihanyi give him a slight edge, while a suplex left Abe laying for just a one-count. Elijah Blum’s in next, as was Takuya Nomura, who blasted through Blum with a kick to the chest as the Astronauts looked to take control. A shoulder tackle drops Blum, who manages to come back with a leapfrog and a crossbody, before a dropkick put him ahead. Tihanyi’s back in to chop Nomura in the corner, while Blum tagged back in to throw some of his own. Nomura breaks out with a bodyslam on Blum, while a stomp to the elbow left Blum in agony as Abe tagged back into the match.
Blum throws some forearms to try and break free of Abe, but an overhand chop stopped all that as Abe worked over Blum’s arm. Nomura’s back in as he and Abe kick away on Blum in the corner, while a slap dropped Elijah for a two-count. A key lock from Nomura has Blum in more trouble, as Elijah needed the ropes to force a break, but Blum’s finally able to break free and tag out to Tihanyi. Tihanyi manages to catch Abe with a back body drop, then an enziguiri for Nomura as a swinging DDT drew a near-fall. Tihanyi goes all Kid Lykos in calling out a brainbuster… which is countered in kind by Nomura, before Abe returned to clear house, taking Tihanyi to the corner for a spin kick to the midsection.
A dropkick from Abe cuts off Tihanyi, who added a superkick in return… tags bring us back to Nomura and Blum, who trade forearms like there was no tomorrow. They up the ante, but Blum caught a PK before returning with a rolling elbow.. Nomura escaped a cross-legged Titanic and pulls Blum into an armbar, which Tihanyi broke up, sparking a Parade of Moves. That cross-legged Titanic lands for a near-fall for Blum – or the 2K1 Bomb, as Dave Prazak tagged it, so I’ll defer to his experience – before an attempt at the Parting Gift was blocked. Nomura goes back to the armbar, while Tihanyi was tied up by Abe in the corner, forcing Blum to submit. This was an unexpected cracker of a match, with Tihanyi and Blum more than holding their own here. ***¾
Danny Fray vs. Mizuki Watase
It’s a German debut for Watase, who’s part of the tag festival with Shigehiro Irie as Renegades.
Fray looked to use his size advantage to control the pace early on, charging through Watase, who returned with a low dropkick and a stomp. A chop from Fray stops Watase briefly, as did a clothesline off the ropes, before Watase tried to throw strikes to get back into it. A bodyslam from Fray gets him a two-count, before Watase got the boots up to avoid a charge in the corner… only for Fray to get right back in with a backbreaker. Watase fights out of a chinlock, but an attempted suplex is blocked… as was Fray’s own, before Watase hit his suplex in the end.
Charging into the corner, Watase heads up top and drives Fray down to the mat for a two-count as the pair proceeded to exchange strikes… leading to Fray cutting off Watase with a spinning sidewalk slam for a near-fall. More strikes from Fray led to him eating a dropkick from Watase, taking him into the corner ahead of a Coast to Coast dropkick… following up with a double stomp off the top for the win. ***
Psycho Mike vs. Jacob Crane
This was the only announced match going in… and was the third airing of the Sound Of The Weekend…
Of course, the crowd really wanted to see a bodyslam here, which Mike mimicked to the point where he got attacked from behind by Crane, whose snap suplex saw him pick up a quick one-count. Mike’s quickly able to hit a bodyslam though, much to the distress of Aaron Rourke and Ava Everett at ringside. So of course, we get more bodyslams. Complete with the dead stare down the barrel of the hard cam, as Crane ate 11 bodyslams back to back, which led to the referee checking Crane for a stoppage. It wouldn’t be the first time… but Mike refuses to let the arm drop, and picks him up for the 12th, 13th and 14th bodyslams to get a near-fall.
Mike elevates things by going for a bodyslam off the middle rope, but Crane wriggles free and countered with a superplex. Crane keeps going with a running kick, then a hesitation dropkick into the corner, before he ate a thunderous back elbow. It’s shrugged off as a bridging German suplex nearly got Crane that unlikely win, before Crane called for his finish… but bodyslam 15 proved an effective counter to the Perfect Driver. Mike squashes Crane in the corner a few times, but ended up getting chopped before Crane caught him with a head kick and the Perfect Driver – a Ki Krusher – for the upset! This was a whole lot of bodyslams, but Jacob Crane finally gets the win over Psycho Mike, laying the curse to rest. ***
1 Called Manders vs. Shigehiro Irie
Manders took Irie to the corner early on in a statement of intent, before an attempted shoulder tackle from Irie didn’t budge Manders. The favour’s returned by Manders, who charges down Irie, who’s chopped into the ropes from there, ahead of a bell ringer before Irie caught out Manders with a slam and the slingshot splash. Irie’s caught with a body attack by the ropes as Manders followed up with a leaping elbow off the bottom rope. Shoulder charges and chops keep Irie in the corner, but the former champion fought back, only to get caught with a DDT as Manders almost picked up the upset.
The pair trade shots from there, with the forearms leading to Manders going for a slam… Irie slips out and hits a Samoan drop instead, before he caught Manders with the crushing back splash off the middle rope. That looked BRUTAL. It’s good for a near-fall after Irie took a while to make the cover, as Manders then recovered to hit an Oklahoma Stampede for a near-fall of his own. Dualling clotheslines follow as Manders eventually took Irie down… only for Shigehiro to pop up and hit one of his own. From their knees, we’re back to strikes, with forearms and chops looking to put Manders back in front, but elbows from Irie led to almost a Hidden Blade-like diving elbow.
Irie adds a cannonball to Manders in the corner for another near-fall, before a Beast Bomber was cut off with a pair of lariats. Manders doesn’t get the win there, and ends up eating a headbutt before Irie caught him with the Chris Hero Hangman’s Elbow to the back of the neck for the win. This wasn’t particularly long, but was extremely up my alley – two big men throwing bombs and not giving each other any quarter. A lovely main event! ***¾
One of the better Inner Circles since we came back from the pandemic, this is well worth the two hours of your time, with the Astronauts’ impressive debut and the Manders/Irie main event proving to be a tantalising appetiser of what was to come later on.