The tournament to crown a new contender for Bobby Gunns’ Shotgun title kicked off in earnest on this week’s episode of Shotgun!

Last week: Christian Jakobi got mad with Jay FK… who just laughed at him.

This week: we’re still in Bielefeld, with Alan Counihan on the English call. If you understand German, Bobby Gunns is waiting for you over there.

First up, Jay FK’s still posing with the wXw tag titles they stole, doing the whole sorry, not sorry act. Francis Kaspin is rebellious, so much so that Jay Skillet has to stop him from swearing, as they declare that they’re above the tag team scene, and the “(belts) from 1985” – and they seem open to that threat from Monster Consulting.

Next: RISE with Sebastian Hollmichel. Bouncer and Kiev have a long list of things to ponder, all summed up by their thoughts on Jay FK. Bouncer reckons RISE can deal with Jay FK, while Kiev just mocks the “cool kids”.

Last week: everyone was looking for Dirty Dragan. This week: Emil Sitoci’s tasked with the challenge of getting hold of him.

There’s a Julian Pace promo video, for those of us who are new to him. He reckons that winning the Shotgun title will turn his life upside down… while Tarkan Aslan talks for Lucky Kid, saying he’d like the title too, but Aslan’s put off by his brother’s general aloofness.

wXw Shotgun Title Number One Contender’s Tournament – First Round: Julian Pace vs. Lucky Kid
Lucky comes out with all of RISE, but Tarkan Aslan’s determined to have him cut out his finger poses with fans. Boo you Tarkan!

We’re straight in with the mind games, but Julian Pace doesn’t seem to mind Lucky early on… as he’s left running the ropes while Lucky claps like a seal. Vollgas! Eventually, Lucky stops Pace by hugging his leg, which gets under the newbie’s skin as we build to a leg spreader and a trip as Pace joined Lucky on the mat. Lucky edges ahead with a low dropkick, taking Julian to the outside, but instead of a dive we get… woah… BLEHH! Pace returned to the ring when Lucky’s plancha misses, and returned fire with a tope, before a monkey flip back inside kept Pace in the race. A running shooting star press gets a near-fall, only for Pace to nonchalantly throw Lucky into the ropes and get taken down by a handspring elbow.

Another running elbow into the corner gets a two-count for Lucky, who has to absorb some punches as Pace tries a fightback… only to get folded in half with a chop! More chops sent Pace to the mat, but Lucky takes too long and almost invites another fight back. At least Lucky’s able to shrug it off and keep Pace in the corner, overwhelming him with forearms until Pace nicks in with a roll-up into a neckbreaker! Pace tries to get ahead with some wacky rope running, finally knocking down Lucky with a diving boot and a Code Red, but it’s not enough, and Lucky manages to block him further with a boot in the corner, before getting caught with a gamengiri. A superplex is tried, but Lucky slips out into a Ligerbomb for a near-fall, only to fall into a satellite DDT from Pace..

Tarkan Aslan gets involved, throwing the ring bell across the ring to distract the referee… Pace tries to confront Aslan and gets punched out, allowing for Lucky to hit him with a German suplex for the win. Yet again Lucky Kid gets a win without knowing the full picture – and that’s him one step closer to another Shotgun title shot. A good match, with Pace getting enough in to help solidify him as a main roster member going into the autumn tour. ***

They recap LuFisto killing Kelly with a Burning Hammer in Hamburg, and now we’re backstage with Melanie Gray thanking her for it. I’m surprised she took so long to revel! Melanie kinda kisses up to LuFisto, and it seems we’re building up to a tag match with those two against Kelly and…

Not Ivan Kiev. He’s next for a promo video to build himself up for the Shotgun title tournament. These have been a nice touch, even if you know who everyone is – I like things that make wrestlers stand out from the pack. Marius al-Ani has one too, as he’s trying to use the tournament for a title shot to pick himself up out of the darkness of the last few months.

wXw Shotgun Title Number One Contender’s Tournament – First Round: Ivan Kiev vs. Marius al-Ani
Kiev, of course, used to be the Shotgun champion until he lost it to Bobby Gunns last Christmas.

Our opening tie-up saw Marius take Kiev into the corner, before eventually scoring with a headlock takedown that ended up in the ropes. Marius keeps up with an armdrag, but the pair are evenly-matched, as seen when they trade off pinning attempts before Marius rolled through into an ankle lock. Kiev escapes and hit back with a diving boot, but Marius is back in with a Fireman’s carry takedown before he’s taken into the corner by Ivan. Marius throws him his kip up into a sort-of bicycle kick to bring Kiev back down, as the step-up elbow drop draws a near-fall, before he went back to the ankle lock.

After another rope break, Marius head to the apron for the slingshot into a sunset flip, but Kiev blocks it with a cradle before a Michinoku driver helped draw him a pair of near-falls. A kneelift from Kiev rocks Marius, but he can’t quite get a death valley bomb off, as Marius slips out, only to land in the path of a Pele kick from Kiev. The Exploder suplex puts al-Ani back in it, before the leap into a ‘rana sort of comes off, as an O’Connor roll drew a near-fall, only for Marius to get caught as he tried to follow up off the top rope.

Kiev’s top rope ‘rana brought Marius down with a bump, but he’s distracted up top by the appearance of Francis Kaspin and Jay Skillet with the tag titles… and that distraction allowed Marius to knock him down and follow up with a frog splash for the win. I’m not crazy about distraction finished, but this was a decent enough match until the run-in at the end. ***

Post-match, Jay Skillet tosses Marius out of the ring as Jay FK beat down Ivan Kiev and Pete Bouncer. What happened to RISE?! Eventually Monster Consulting hit the ring and chase away Jay FK…

We find out that next week, we’ve tournament matches featuring Juvenile X vs. TKO and Veit Müller vs. Mike Schwarz. The winners of those two face Lucky Kid and Marius al-Ani respectively.

Sebastian Hollmichel finds Dirty Dragan in the laundry room… Dragan said he’d turned his phone off because the loss to Veit Müller was an embarrassment. Sebastian suggested that winning matches was a bad thing to happen… and Dragan doesn’t take that well, taking it rather personally. When he’s told that Emil Sitoci said the same thing, Dragan blows a fuse and goes looking for someone. I like how they’re portraying this story, be it viewed as Dragan being a goof with a lack of confidence, or it being a tale of mental health issues… it’s a different take, but one that in my mind is more realistic than some of the cliches in the entertainment sphere.

The finish to the al-Ani/Andy match from Hamburg’s replayed, including the I Am The Table moment with the A-Klasse, and we’re taken back to ringside as Absolute Andy has some mic time. Of course he’s wearing his 16 Carat Gold tee, reminding him of his biggest win in recent times. The crowd get on Andy’s back as he calls attention to his tee, proclaiming himself as the best in the world – overshadowing Ilja Dragunov in 2017. Uh-huh…

Andy asks the crowd if they think Ilja is the best in the world. The crowd think he is, but Andy takes the credit by saying that Dragunov is only the world champion “because he let him”. He reckons that behind the scenes, he sees Ilja beating himself up to get ready for matches… and that’s not the behaviour of a champion. He claims Ilja has “miniature jellybeans”, because calling him a word we probably shouldn’t be repeating here.

Still bitter, Andy calls Ilja a “rookie world champion”, and that draws out Dragunov! Ilja took offence, calling Andy a “wonderful example” of someone who’s bitter and jealous. They’re quickly interrupted by Alexander James, whose presence distracted Ilja, and we have a two-on-one beatdown… Ilja sort-of holds his own, but a low blow puts him down again before he’s saved by… WALTER! Der Ringgeneral clears the ring, before he picked up Ilja’s belt to stare at it longingly, eventually giving it to Dragunov as the pair shake hands.

WALTER’s got a mic though, and we close the show with him issuing a challenge for a tag match later: WALTER and Dragunov vs. Andy and James! Yes please!

All-in, this was a solid episode of Shotgun – the tournament matches held their own while keeping storylines going – and we got enough storytelling to help keep the show ticking along as wXw enters their summer break… and with the rest of the tournament and the matches teased for the coming weeks, it’s clear that time off isn’t going to translate into any kind of lull.