The prime spot for this weekend’s Shortcut to the Top was on the line in the “go home” episode of Shotgun!

Thomas Giesen opens up this week with an interview with Ivan Kiev. Ivan says he beat WALTER, who is the measuring stick in wXw, and he’ll have no issue beating Bad Bones to keep pushing on.

It’s David Starr video package time, where he goes through his nicknames and how he earned the nickname “Davey Wrestling” – from a feud in Beyond Wrestling with Johnny Gargano. This segues into Starr building up his latest crack at the Shotgun title, where he vows to regain the title from Angelico in the three-way. That then bleeds into the recap videos for Emil Sitoci and Angelico to build up some more… and finally, a match!

Angelico & Francis Kaspin vs. Emil Sitoci & Marius van Beethoven
We’ve got Irish Alan on commentary this week, as we open with something that bleeds out of the Hamburg show as Sitoci and his minion Marius teamed up. That minion tagged himself in as he thought Francis Kaspin was ripe for the taking… but of course the youngster just took Marius to school as he picked up a near-fall before bringing in Angelico.

Angelico and Kaspin held up Beethoven for a stalling suplex, but Marius kicks out at one as Angelico started to throw some punches his way. Marius comes back with some Eat Defeat, but it’s barely enough for a two-count as Angelico gets rolled towards the wrong corner as Sitoci comes in to wear down his arm. Sitoci impressively catches a kick from Angelico and pivots into a jawbreaker, but his cockiness backfires badly as Sitoci misses a moonsault, allowing Angelico to tag out.

The lukewarm tag sees Kaspin take down Sitoci with cross-chops, before a vicious thrust kick knocked the youngster down for a near-fall, as Marius returned to take some cheap shots. Things swung back the other way as Kaspin struggled against Sitoci, but again Marius blind-tags in to get “his turn” – something that’s undoubtedly going to be a bone of contention in time!

Gradually, the Dutch wear down Kaspin, but he’s able to make the hot tag to Angelico who backs Sitoci into the corner then uses him as a launching pad for a knee into Marius in the corner. Emil pops up though with some chops, only to take a bicycle knee and a Capoeira kick from Angelico. Marius gets a go too, taking a double stomp to the back for a near-fall, before his attempt at a Hart Attack is ended when Emil got involved.

Sitoci comes back with a gutbuster to Kaspin, before lifting up Marius into an elevated big splash for a near-fall. The Dutch version of a Hart Attack gets cut-off as Marius takes a knee from Angelico, then a Hart Attack Knee for another near-fall as van Beethoven found a way to kick out. A blind tag doesn’t stop Marius from a Fall of the Angels… but it does mean he can’t be pinned as Sitoci hit Angelico with a snapmare driver, then Kaspin took one too as Sitoci single-handedly earned the win. A really fun tag match, and it’s nice to see them continue the Sitoci/Marius pairing from what happened in Hamburg. ***¼

We go backstage next where Marius is tucking into… half a slice of bread, a strawberry and a piece of pasta. Oh, and way too much butter. Dirty Dragan eats the butter off his finger, which makes Marius sick, before the pair argue over who’d win Shortcut to the Top. Of course, Chong comes in and sticks his nose in… Marius is getting pretty fed up of this, and after saying that they’ll win Shortcut to the Top together, that pairing with Emil Sitoci must be really enticing right now.

We get a recap of the argument between Alpha Kevin and Melanie Gray last week – with that mystery guy coming in to invite Melanie to the shower with Bobby Gunns. Sure enough, we’re there next, and Bobby’s looking for a towel. In comes Melanie, who fake flirts with him before grabbing Bobby by the Gunns, threatening to castrate him if he keeps it up. He kinda liked it…

Francis Kaspin is up next in the locker room, with Alexander James mad at him for telling trainees to ignore Alexander’s way. Kaspin says he’s playing by the rules, and they get into a brief shoving match about who’s a superstar. There’s a challenge from Kaspin, but James walks away and says it’ll happen “soon”.

Up next is a promo video for Avalanche, who’s pushed huge for making WALTER submit despite having a dislocated shoulder. After returning, he made Bad Bones tap out before going on a reign of terror across Europe, including beating both of his former Cerberus partners. “Avalanche has just started moving” says the video… and I’ve a feeling that despite Jurn being put over as a fast learner and someone who beat a former UFC fighter, we’re going to have a Monster of a Man as wXW champion.

They recap Kim Ray’s challenge for a handicap match against WALTER and Christian Michael Jakobi from last week, and then we’re taken to the wXw Academy. Are we going to get Jakobi doing the Mean Gene training skit? This segment’s not subtitled for some reason, and sadly, it’s not a montage. Ah well, we can live in hope for another crack at this down the line!

After confirming Kim Ray vs. WALTER/CMJ, we’re also told that Alexander James will face Francis Kaspin in Cologne on Saturday… that’s in addition to the Angelico vs. Emil Sitoci vs. David Starr three-way for the Shotgun title, Matt Riddle vs. Ilja Dragunov, Jurn Simmons vs. Avalanche for the wXw Unified World Wrestling title and the Shortcut to the Top match itself.

Ivan Kiev vs. “Bad Bones” John Klinger
Our main event comes from Münster barely two weeks ago, and the rules are simple: whomever wins enters Shortcut to the Top at number 30, whereas the loser starts the match at number one. The Sputnikhalle in Münster looks tiny, kind of like the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal Green for having a wall blocking off one side of the ring.

Bones launches into Kiev from the off, throwing him into the buckles for a back body drop, only for Kiev to come back with a death valley driver for a two-count as he almost beat Bones with the move he beat WALTER with in Hamburg. Kiev takes Bones to the outside, where he’s shoved into the apron, but an attempted apron suplex is reversed as Bones throws him back inside for a near-fall.

The Sputnikhalle makes it hard to dive in, and Kiev hits an enziguiri off the floor to stop a tope from Bones as the RISE member kept putting the boots to the wXw stalwart. A running crossbody and a neckbreaker finally gets Bones back into it, but the pair trade forearms in the corner before Bones rolled to the outside… to return with a slingshot spear!

That gets Bones a near-fall, but again Kiev hits back with a roundhouse, then a cannonball into the corner… but Kiev took too long and almost lost to a small package. We finally got that low-pe from Bones, sending Kiev into the crowd, but his missile dropkick back in the ring was turned into a sit-out powerbomb that again almost earned Kiev the win.

More back-and-forth forearms lead to Kiev trying his death valley driver again, before the pair traded off on knees and pump kicks. Bones’ ascendancy continued with some Wrecking Ball knees, but then the lights went out as the Young Lions made their appearance… but it was just a distraction as Pete Bouncer hit the ring… and was promptly dispatched of. Lucky Kid tries a belt shot, but Bones ducks that before booting the other belt in Tarkan Aslan’s face. That leaves Bones open for a sit-out death valley driver… and Ivan Kiev books his place as number 30 on Saturday! Another decent match, with RISE’s interference not being overdone – as can be the case with invading groups. ***

We’re quickly fading away to RISE sitting down backstage as Chris Colen hypes up Ivan Kiev’s starting place. Apparently Colen and the Young Lions aren’t going to be there on Saturday, and we go off air wondering whether RISE would prefer Kiev or Pete Bouncer to win on Saturday. Ooh, dissension!

As a go-home show for Shortcut to the Top, this was a phenomenal effort. Every match on the card was touched on and given plenty of coverage – whilst also throwing in enough seeds of doubt for those key title matches. Personally, I’d have preferred some more build for the actual Shortcut to the Top match – specifically hyping up someone as a favourite (even if it a red herring), but since we’re not aware of all 30 men in the match, that’ll be hard to do.

Shortcut to the Top is this Saturday in Cologne – hours after a PROGRESS show in the same venue. wXw’s show should be up on their wXw Now service by Tuesday, as the group then heads into their summer break!