In a recent episode of Shotgun, building up to the Ilja Dragunov/Bad Bones match over World Tag Team League weekend, something grabbed our interest. Something from 2015…

In that Dragunov promo, he noted beating Bad Bones for the Shotgun title. Which he did, at 2015’s 16 Carat Gold tournament. That match was aired as part of wXw’s Shotgun series, which back then was a YouTube show… so why not review that episode?

So we open with Christian Michael Jakobi of 2015 excitedly introducing us to Shotgun. wXw were in the midst of a monster run of shows by their standards, which included that year’s 16 Carat Gold tournament, which was won by Tommy End. We’re shown the final few minutes of the final, where the future Aleister Black beat Axel with the Black Mass kick, before putting over his fellow future NXT alum in the winner’s speech. At the time, Axel was still an up-and-comer as part of Hot & Spicy (with Da Mack)… long before the split, the RINGKAMPF run and the move to NXT in 2017.

Back to Jakobi now, who mentions a three-way tag match that was happening the week after the Carat final (but took place before this show aired), as the Sumerian Death Squad of End and Michael Dante took on Bad Bones and Big Daddy Walter, and a pairing known as “The Campaign for a Better wXw” – featuring Karsten Beck and Tyler Bate. Apparently the rules of that match at Dead End was that the winner gets the next shot at Beck’s wXw title… so Tommy End wasn’t guaranteed a shot for winning Carat!

In the end, Walter made Tyler Bate give up, so he gets the shot. That leads us to Big Daddy cutting a promo in the Batschkapp after his win… this was before wXw translated promos, so a lot of this is Angry Walter venting at Karsten Beck and Robert Dreissker.

Next, was this:

Yep, Vince Russo cutting a promo through Google+. Remember when that was a thing? Google Plus, I mean… He reckons Karsten Beck has a match “in Driz-dain” (I’m guessing he meant Dresden?), and we cut to a split screen of Beck talking to his phone at a distance before cutting his promo to-camera after Russo hung up. Walter’s getting his title shot in Prague (in the Czech Republic), by the way…

They plug the Middle-Germany cup for the show in Gotha, featuring a lot of names still on the wXw roster… including a youthful Marius al-Ani. We also learn of some other upcoming tour matches, including a match with a pre-RISE Ivan Kiev, and… this one.

Yes, it is the guy now called Alexander Wolfe. Yes, that is Bobby Gunns.

Ivan Kiev has a brief promo next, as does Julian Nero and his incredibly sparkly Dracula robe! My God, going back two and a half years feels like a lifetime ago for some of these folks.

Vladivostok Rules – wXw Shotgun Championship: Ilja Dragunov vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger (c)
We’ve a split crowd as Bones looked to end this early after Dragunov charged into the corner, only for the challenger to hit a Torpedo Moscau to take Bad Bones onto the apron.

Bones’ trunks read “Steal The Show”; again, a massive change from even his pre-RISE character in 2017. They end up outside as a back suplex onto the apron drops Ilja, who grabs a chair and swipes away a tope from Klinder with a big chairshot. So I’m guessing by process of inclusion that Vladivostok Rules include no-DQs… Back in the ring, Dragunov gets a few near-falls as he worked over Klinger, mainly choking on him in the rope, before launching in with a series of chops as Bad Bones was caught in the corner. A diving headbutt to a downed Bones gets a near-fall, so Ilja keeps peppering away with slaps, only to run into a big forearm.

That forearm almost won it, as this turned into a striking battle, ending with Bones knocking Ilja into the corner courtesy of some stiff chops. Somehow, Ilja struck back with a springboard battering ram headbutt for a near-fall, before Bones dropkicked him to the apron as Ilja tried to climb the ropes again. The pair end up outside once more, as a Drive By dropkick knocked Dragunov to the floor, before a tope took the Russian into the front row! Back inside, Dragunov lands a decapitation superkick for a near-fall as he tried to fight back, only to get caught with a uranage from Bones as the momentum kept swinging.

Klinger hits an over-the-knee F5, but Ilja kicked out at two, before getting drilled with a big knees and a crucifix buckle bomb. The Wrecking Ball Knees follow as Dragunov somehow found a way to kick out… so Bones goes under the ring and pulls out a chair. Dragunov punches the chair shot away, then lands a lariat off the ropes… and that’s enough to get the win as Ilja’s your new Shotgun champion! So it seems “Vladivostok rules” were just code for “no DQ”, but that’s okay because this was a hell of a war. ***½

Ilja’s got a promo next, which is mostly him laughing into his Shotgun title belt… and yeah, I don’t understand a word of this.

We’re back to Jakobi in the studio now, as he announces that Ilja’s got to defend the title against Da Mack at the upcoming show in Apolda. Next up is a promo from the then-tag team champions, French Flavour – the tandem of Peter Fischer and Lucas di Leo. They complain about having to defend their titles so often, so they’re boycotting wXw’s tour of Eastern Germany.

From there, we go to Keel Holding, with Kim Ray being the only face from there still recognisable in wXw today. Again, no clue what’s being said in their huddle… my bad! Randomly, the show ends there… no end credits, no nothing.

As a dip into the wXw time capsule, this was quite the eye opener. There’s a lot of stuff that’s similar to the current Shotgun – the abundance of backstage “promos”, the matches, and the studio pieces (which was dropped with their last makeover earlier this year). It’s amazing to see how much things have changed in two years… yet at the same time, some has stayed the same. Perhaps we’ll keep dipping back into old Shotguns every now and then, but for now, hopefully the result from this episode repeats later this weekend in Oberhausen!