With World Tag Team League firmly in the rear view mirror, wXw began their road to their next marquee event, as they hit Cologne for an excellent card on the Road to Broken Rules.

This was the first televised show since wXw’s reshuffle – this date at Cologne’s Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld was originally slated as a Shotgun taping… but we all know what happened there! So with wXw heading to Dresden later in November, this became a warm-up of sorts for Broken Rules, complete with a tantalising main event. A neck injury to Julian Nero forced him onto the sidelines for the time being, so there were some tweaks to the card as a result. Get well soon, Julian!

We open with the vignette from Shotgun that built to the main event tonight: Chris Brooks & Timothy Thatcher vs. WALTER & Ilja Dragunov… and we’ve got the Shotgun theme for the Road to Broken Rules?! Jeremy Graves is on commentary, and this is feeling a lot like Shotgun!

First, an interview with Ilja Dragunov, who’s got a more severe challenge ahead of him in a few weeks as he faces PCO in Dresden at Broken Rules. Ilja talks about emotions, but they mean nothing because he’s only got the interim title. He knows he needs to beat Absolute Andy one-on-one, but he can’t become “an old, broken, sneaky wretch”… so he has to beat the inhuman PCO to prove his worth. A good save and a good way to stitch together two matches!

Especially because the wXw unification match will be in Hamburg on November 23. Oh my god, I’m gonna be there live!

They replay the final segment from Shotgun, where we see that Francis Kaspin was trolling us all with an envelope of confetti… that segues into an Andy promo, complete with a custom towel. It’s a fast-talking Andy, but one that still seems panicked… he’s interrupted by Bobby Gunns, who still has his Shortcut to the Top title shot in hand. They banter about Andy’s injured shoulder, which leads to Andy throwing a fit as he demands the camera stops recording. Except they don’t, because Bobby wants to take on Andy for that title shot in Hamburg.

We’ve more segments: Veit Müller’s with Timothy Thatcher, asking for advice ahead of his match with Julian Pace… and that’s next!

Julian Pace vs. Veit Müller
Pace previously beat Müller in a dark match at Dead End earlier this year, and we start with Veit taking the fight to the mat.

Pace tries to escape a headlock from Müller, but he’s dragged down to the mat as Veit clings on. When Julian does escape, it’s not long before he runs into a spinebuster and a single leg crab, but Pace gets to the ropes and looks to turn up the speed… only for Müller to put the brakes on. Eventually Pace frees himself and starts to go Vollgas, hitting the ropes with misdirection aplenty, before catching Müller with a dropkick! Müller kicks out Pace’s leg as Veit starts to target the limb in a bid to slow down Pace, trying to yank the leg right out of the hip. A kick to the face frees Pace, but Veit manages to grab a leglock as they stay on the mat.

There’s a big back body drop from Müller to Pace (cheers!), but Julian low-bridges Müller to send him to the outside… as Pace hobbles in with a dive to the outside. Müller sidesteps, and takes it back inside… but Pace rolls him up for a near-fall before he runs into a bell clapper. Müller keeps up the offence with an old-school knee-breaker, but Pace shoves away a toe-hold… only for Veit to hit right back. There’s a snapmare and a chinlock out of Müller, but a second back body drop’s turned into a hiptoss as Pace tried to chain together some offence, taking Müller into the corner for a big boot. Pace gets lifted onto the apron, where he follows up with a gamengiri then a roll-through neckbreaker. There’s a version of Jody Fleisch’s 720 DDT too, but Müller kicks out, prompting Pace to head up for a moonsault.

Of course, Müller rolls away, and Pace jars his knee on the landing, allowing Müller to pick him up for a Gory Bomb for a near-fall… before a Figure Four leglock’s applied, forcing Pace to tap out! This was a bit of a clash of styles, but a very deliberate outing from Müller, who neutralised Julian’s, erm, pace. **¾

They replay Meiko Satomura winning Femmes Fatales, and there’s a promo with her backstage. I thought she didn’t speak any English? It’s in Japanese, but there’s no subtitles, but my rudimentary Japanese (okay, it’s Google Translate) got this as her wanting to come back and win the title. Oh my God, yes!

Calamari Thatch Kings (Chris Brookes & Timothy Thatcher) vs. WALTER & Ilja Dragunov
If it weren’t for PROGRESS’ doomed Thunderbastard, this’d have been a Parejas Incredibles-like match…

Brookes and Ilja start us off, with Brookes working over Dragunov’s arm in the early going as Jeremy Graves explains the build to the match. In the ropes, Dragunov switches out, but he misses a back senton, allowing Brookes to regain control… there’s a nice backflip in the ropes from Ilja to get free, as tags take us to the inevitable… WALTER vs. Thatcher.

WALTER grabs a headlock and takes down Thatcher early on… and he clings on as Thatcher struggled to break free. Thatcher shoves him off, but eats a shoulder charge, before he catches WALTER with a bow-and-arrow hold as he capitalised on der Ringgeneral playing to the crowd. Some up kicks from WALTER delay a single leg crab, and eventually stop it as Thatcher’s kicked loopy, but he’s able to stop a chop and get that single leg crab anyway!

A STF follows, but WALTER gets to the ropes as Thatcher worked in a way to tag out to Brookes while keeping the Austrian on the mat… and Brookes tries to keep it up, locking WALTER in a front facelock, only for him to get lifted onto the apron in a rather patronising manner. Brookes throws a chop, which angers WALTER, and he keeps throwing them until he’s stopped by a big boot. Oof. Dragunov tags back in as he and WALTER looked to isolate Brookes, catching him with a low dropkick for a near-fall. WALTER’s quickly back in as he atagonised Thatcher on the apron, and it’s not long before those two trade blows as RINGKAMPF imploded. All four men end up in the ring, but it’s stopped as Ilja chops Thatcher to the outside as the two legal men resumed.

A kick from Brookes gives him hope, before a back senton to a doubled-over WALTER allowed him to tag out to Thatcher. Ilja’s back too with a barrage of shots to Thatcher, but Timothy replies with RINGKAMPF belly to belly suplexes, chaining together a trio of them to leave Dragunov on the proverbial jelly legs. Still, Ilja’s able to kick out and he’s quickly stretched in a STF, before the chops of Brookes pin him into the corner.

A dropkick damages Ilja as his leg was caught in the ropes, and Brookes keeps up on the legs with his version of a Romero special, pulling Dragunov back over his knees as the interim champion was kept at bay. Thatcher’s back with a delayed gutwrench suplex on Dragunov, who fired back… and quickly flopped onto the mat. There’s more fight from Dragunov as he kicks down Brookes and lands a back senton before finding his way out to a tag to WALTER. Thatcher’s back in as RINGKAMPF squared off again, trading thwacking elbows on each other, then uppercuts before WALTER threw a chop. A Gojira clutch from Thatcher sees him try and turn the tables, as WALTER counters a back suplex into a body splash, as Ilja’s back in to help with an enziguiri and a clothesline-assisted German suplex to put Thatcher down for a near-fall.

All four men are back in the ring, but Ilja ends up leaping into a Thatcher uppercut as Brookes and Thatcher have a go at the double-teaming lark. A slingshot cutter from Brookes to WALTER helps Thatcher set up for a Saito suplex, but Dragunov breaks it up, before hitting a rebound clothesline was WALTER and Dragunov fired up some more… we’ve a Torpedo Moscau/Powerbomb combo… but Brookes dives in to break up the cover!

A tope from Dragunov catches Brookes on the outside as RINGKAMPF stay in the ring, with WALTER having to fight out of a Fujiwara armbar that he looked to have tapped to. Dragunov can’t make the save as Brookes has him tied up in the ropes, but WALTER rolls free He and Ilja apply duelling Gojira clutches, but Thatcher escapes and slaps WALTER again as we’re back to the clonking elbows. Yep. They paid attention to Suzuki vs. Ishii when they were at Rev Pro. My GOODNESS.

Eventually both men stagger into their corners for tags, but the fresh men just run into big boots as WALTER and Thatcher – now illegal – throw some many elbows that referee Felix Schulz loses his mind! My word those uppercuts from Thatcher! WALTER’s chops are a little on the high side, and all four men stay in the ring as the action gets a little too quick to call. Luckily it doesn’t last too much longer as Dragunov sneaks in a Torpedo Moscau to Brookes, and that’s enough for the win. Well, on paper this was never not going to be good, and this was an exceptional tag team contest. Perhaps hurt a touch by it not having any visible stakes, but when the action’s this good… who cares?! ****¼

Next up… Avalanche! He’s handing out flyers as he’s looking for a new hire for Monster Consulting because Julian Nero’s hurt (which is why the 3-way tag match was cancelled). He gets the mic to tell the crowd the bad news (which got a really strong and touching reaction from the Cologne crowd).

They actually put the advert up on screen, like a PowerPoint Presentation, and you can see Thommy Giesen smiling throughout this. I’m doing the same. Avalanche is interrupted by the Jetsetter, Timo Theiss, who the crowd really doesn’t want to hear speak. Avalanche has to babyface to get them to shut up… Theiss reckons he’s the man Avalanche wants, and even claims that as the CEO Monster Consulting, he’ll reorganise the business. Nobody believes him… but Avalanche wants to give him a job interview. Which’ll last five minutes.

Avalanche vs. Timo Theiss
Theiss jumps Avalanche from behind, then whips him with his jacket… but Avalanche gets free and unloads on Theiss.

There’s a Beele throw out of the corner, the five mounted punches, before Theiss tries to powder to the back. He’s dragged back in as Avalanche lands a shoulder tackle, only for Theiss to come back as he drags Avalanche into the ring post as the match swung back and forth, with Theiss taking all the shortcuts you’d expect a newcomer to need to stay competitive here.

A belly-to-belly suplex from Avalanche plants Theiss, who still tries to fight back, but he runs into a Samoan drop for a near-fall. Theiss hangs up Avalanche in the ropes before scoring with a Macho Man-like double axehandle… but Avalanche shrugs it off and charges him into the corner before finishing him off with a Dreissker Bomb. The shout-out to Vader gets the win, and Timo Theiss… probably isn’t CEO! This was more competitive than I thought it’d be, but a lot of fun! **¾

Backstage, Kelly and Toni are eating Haribo. I know, right?! Toni’s building herself up for her title shot at Broken Rules, and she’s loading up on carbs… while putting over her “Killer Storm” team mate. Toni vows that wXw is home and neither of them are going anywhere… before eating more Haribo.

Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali) vs. Arrows of Hungary (Icarus & Dover)
With no Monster Consulting, the advertised three-way is now a regular tag match.

Icarus starts off with LSG, trading wristlocks, before Icarus blocked an O’Connor roll and rolls up the American… but there’s no count as Icarus keeps up with a snapping ‘rana as the pair ended up standing off. A tag brings in Dover, but his standing fallaway slam’s escaped as LSG slips out and brings in Shaheem Ali, who went to work on the larger of the Hungarians, snapmaring him ahead of a low dropkick for a one-count.

LSG’s quickly back in, as a double-team ends with a neckbreaker on Dover, but the “Hardcore Hungarian” lifts away LSG, sending him onto the apron before LSG’s charged into the corner, where a kick from Icarus was waiting for him. The Arrows launch in with more double-teaming, as an Icarus cannonball gets a near-fall, as they keep LSG isolated and cornered for a while. A double-team Pounce keeps the Arrows on top as they were an impenetrable wall to stop a tag out to Ali. There’s a standing fallaway slam from Dover as LSG was being thrown all over the place, but he again tries to fight back… only to take a delayed back senton as the Arrows kept up the offence. Icarus returns with a standing moonsault for a near-fall, before the Arrows attempted the Crossfire duelling knees.

LSG blocks them and finally gets free, escaping the Hungarians as he makes the tag to Ali, who clears house with a nice leg lariat to Dover. There’s a headbutt for Icarus too, before a lifting Flatliner drops Icarus. Ali goes back to Dover with a big boot, as LSG blind tags in… only to get clocked by Icarus as Dover just slams both members of Coast 2 Coast at the same time. That’ll never not be impressive!

The Arrows go for Crossfire again, but Ali ducks as the Arrows’ knees hit each other, allowing Ali to hit a Sidewinder uranage, before the still-legal LSG lands a 450 Splash for the win. A bit of a banana peel loss for the Arrows, but a good showing from both teams – I hope the Arrows become regulars in wXw, but it depends on their availability, I guess. ***½

Post-match, Jay-FK come out with a microphone, and mock everyone. Again, the crowd won’t let Jay Skillet speak, but he pushes on with his insincerity, and a fake offer of praise. Here come the Schurrle chants, which Skillet tries to ignore, as he’s bigger issues to contend with: the fact that they have no opponents for Broken Rules. Jay waves off all four men in the ring, saying they don’t deserve a shot… something Kaspin echoed before they walked off.

Or at least tried to, as Thommy Giesen comes in and shares some information he’d been given. At Broken Rules on November 17, we’re getting a triple-threat tag title match, as the Arrows of Hungary and Coast 2 Coast will challenge Jay-FK. Needless to say, Herr Skillet and Herr Kaspin were NOT best pleased.

We go backstage as WALTER and Timothy Thatcher lick their self-inflicted wounds from earlier. Thatcher’s a little more hurt about it, but in comes Veit Müller, whom Thatcher perked up upon seeing. Thatcher’s still a little jealous about WALTER being away next month, so he offers a singles match: Veit Müller vs. Timothy Thatcher. I’m getting too excited about this card.

WALTER talked about Axel Dieter Junior returning in December as he tries to guilt Thatcher about what’s going on. It’s telling that Thatcher’s not visibly wearing RINGKAMPF gear (he’s wearing a Schadenfreude hoodie, the group he’s part of with WALTER in Fight Club Pro), and we get more gear-based bickering… and a challenge of WALTER vs. Thatcher at Broken Rules. There’s trouble in paradise… and I forecast further chops.

Killer Kelly vs. Kris Wolf
It’s a rematch from the first round of Femmes Fatales, and Kris Wolf is her usual bundle of energy. Luckily, Sjörd’s camera isn’t made of meat…

Kris kicks Kelly in the arse to begin with, praising the backside rather than being a fan of Father Ted. Kelly’s not one for playing around though, as she grabs Kris by the tail and sets her straight, clocking her with a forearm. Kris comes back by cartwheeling off the top rope before catching Kelly with a lungblower for a near-fall… and now it’s time for Tito! Except Kelly cuts her off and makes Kris wear Tito as another spot of animal cruelty sees Kelly try and kick off the wolf head. Kelly goes for a Dragon sleeper, but of course… Kris slips out of the mask! She regains Tito, then keeps up with the shots on Kelly, who eventually replies with a lariat.

Wolf heads outside, and drags Kelly out with her as she grabs a beer from the crowd… and downs some of it. She’s learned a little from Mike Schwarz, eh? Kelly managed to keep a bit of the beer and spit it back at Wolf, before dumping her on her head with a release German suplex. Oof. Still, Kris fights back, catching Kelly in the corner with a knee, before another kick’s caught. That leads to Kelly pulling Kris into a Romero special Dragon sleeper… and Wolf taps quickly. A little on the brief side, but this was extremely fun and entertaining to watch… any chance of more rematches? This was one of those bouts you ought to ignore the star ratings on… **¾

Next: Avalanche posts his job advert outside, but he’s stopped by Jurn Simmons and Alexander James. They mock him, saying that they ran off Dirty Dragan and Emil Sitoci, which is why Nero’s gone. Avalanche takes it as a challenge for Dresden, where he’ll have a new partner to take on The Crown. A crueller man would joke that the Crown’s named after what’s just about the only bit of hair they have left between them…

Backstage, Kris Wolf thanks Killer Kelly for the beating. They’ve got a three-way at Broken Rules for a title shot. Kelly calls Kris a “kid”, which she takes offence too, as Wolf storms off. OH MY GOD, we’ve a PCO promo next! He looks a lot different to last time he was here in wXw, as he reveals that this streetfight at Broken Rules is for Ilja’s interim title. I was not expecting any PCO promotional material here, so this is a big win.

Jeremy runs down the card for Broken Rules in two weeks’ time…

Streetfight for Interim wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: PCO vs. Ilja Dragunov (c)
wXw Women’s Championship: Toni Storm vs. Melanie Gray (c)
wXw World Tag Team Championship: Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali) vs. Arrows of Hungary (Icarus & Dover) vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) (c)
Audrey Bride vs. Kris Wolf vs. Killer Kelly
Avalanche & X vs. The Crown (Jurn Simmons & Alexander James)
Timothy Thatcher vs. WALTER

Absolute Andy, Marius al-Ani & Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) vs. RISE (Lucky Kid, Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) & Bobby Gunns
A melee broke out before the bell as Gunns charged at Andy with an attempted armbar, while the bad guys were all left scurrying, with the good guys knocking them off the apron early on.

Finally the bell goes as Lucky Kid mocks Marius al-Ani, which ends with him getting a forearm before a pair of low dropkicks get Lucky back in it. Tags bring in Andy and Bobby, with the latter lighting up the former champion with uppercuts, as Gunns was full of fire… and dropkicks too! More tags follow as Jay-FK tried to single out Ivan Kiev, but he overcomes it and gets a near-fall with a kick on Kaspin.

A dropkick to the back of Kaspin takes him into the corner as we’re quickly cycling through those tags. Lucky Kid’s back in with al-Ani, who catches the handspring before Absolute Andy pulls out Lucky and eventually tosses him into the ringpost. Back inside, a step-up elbow drop gets Marius a two-count, as Skillet tags in to continue the work on Lucky, while clearing the opponent’s apron as well.

The Schurlle chants resume as Skillet’s in, but Andy’s quickly back as he boots Lucky Kid in the face. Lucky’s cornered and choked on as the bad guys cut the ring off effectively. Skillet throws a knee into Lucky’s head as the bad guys mock the RISE finger touch, with Jay-FK being extremely arrogant and good at it. Lucky eventually mounts a comeback, dropkicking the former A4 off the apron before getting the hot tag to Bobby Gunns.

A knee from Skillet cuts of Gunns briefly, but a German suplex to Kaspin nearly gets the win for the Shortcut to the Top winner. Gunns single-handedly goes after Jay-FK, while fending off Andy with a hanging armbar… which a stomp from Skillet broke up. Bouncer and Kiev come in, but they’re quickly sent outside as Jay-FK played a part in a quadruple clothesline, before we’re back to Gunns and Andy, with the latter scoring a big spinebuster.

Lucky Kid’s in and quickly lands an enziguiri to Andy, before a back body drop lifts al-Ani to the outside. A faked-out dive from Lucky Kid just earns him a vicious superkick from Andy, who then went for a F5, only for Lucky to counter with a crossface that Marius broke up as we had a Parade of Submissions on show. Ivan Kiev busts out a Million Dollar Dream, as all four of the bad guys were in trouble, but Marius powerbombs his way free and breaks it all up… only for Andy to be left alone 1-on-4 down. He tries to beg off, but Bobby Gunns grabs his begging finger and snaps it, before whipping everyone into him in the corner. An Asai DDT from Lucky takes down Andy, who then eats a leg lariat from Kiev before Lucky scored a near-fall from it all. Things turn around as Andy goes for a F5, before A4 worked like the olden days on Lucky… but now it’s Lucky who kicks out early!

Andy distracts the referee as Jay-FK tries to use their title belts… it backfires as RISE disarm them and use the belts on the champions as the match broke down… al-Ani tries a beltshot, but Lucky ducks and uses the Shotgun title belt on Marius, before a Liger Bomb gets Lucky Kid the win! Well, with all the feuds going in, it certainly was something to see the big focus being put on Lucky Kid, who ends the night with the big victory! ***½

The show ends with confirmation that we get Bobby Gunns vs. Absolute Andy at Broken Rules – with the winner getting a title shot in Hamburg the following week as the interim wXw title becomes unified, while the rest of that Hamburg card for November 23 is run through…

Veit Müller vs. Timothy Thatcher
Alpha Female vs. Wesna
RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali)
wXw Shotgun Championship: Lucky Kid vs. Marius al-Ani (c)
Warm-Up: Kris Wolf vs. Kelly Anne

…and we end with Lucky Kid celebrating being granted that Shotgun title. He’s almost delirious in a sweet Misawa t-shirt. Lucky, along with Ivan Kiev and Pete Bouncer, note they’re in the room that Pete was attacked in earlier in the summer… and that’s the cue for Marius al-Ani to pass through and talk trash.

So, the first Road to event was a huge win in my book. Everyone’s big fear with the demise of Shotgun was that wXw was going to become “just a promotion” with monthly shows and little else. Well, this was like a hyped up Shotgun XXL – and if this is the way forward for wXw, then our fears were extremely misplaced.

If you weren’t a regular Shotgun watcher, tune in for this – the Calamari Thatch Kings vs. ILJAKAMPF steals the show, but the remainder of the card is well worth your time, as are the abundance of Shotgun-like segments – which plant plenty of seeds for the months ahead. Are RINGKAMPF falling apart? Is Absolute Andy deliberately ignoring Jay Skillet? And who’s Avalanche going to get as a new partner? It’s ongoing threads like these that wXw always tend to pay-off – and make their product a rewarding one to follow.