Absolute Andy and Ilja Dragunov went to war once again as the promotion finally had just the one world champion after their latest trip to Hamburg.

Hmm, it’s weird being at a wXw show live and not doing a report as we go! We’re actually at the sold-out Markthalle in Hamburg, with all apologies to Katja and Sjörd for having to edit around some of us! Rico Bushido and Andy Jackson are on the English language call tonight.

wXw World Tag Team Championship: Arrows of Hungary (Icarus & Dover) vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) (c)
Of course, there’s “Schurlle” chants for Jay Skillet from the off, while Francis Kaspin’s got his Star Spangled Banner headband that Dover looked to knock off from the start.

Dover tries to take Kaspin into the ropes, but a side headlock from Kaspin follows which led to the feat of strength that was Dover just lifting him up and into the ropes afterall. Kaspin gets a slap in, before he scurried away as Skillet tags in and quickly gets charged into the corner and a gamengiri kick! Skillet’s sent flying with a Beele, before Icarus gets thrown after him into the corner for an early near-fall. Some distractions from Kaspin help turn it around, as a superkick gets the champions a two-count, as Jay-FK looked to keep Icarus well away from a tag. An armbar drags Icarus into the wrong corner as Skillet returned to put the boots in… but Icarus manages to outsmart them and score a missile dropkick on Skillet, which led in turn to the “accidental DDT” on Kaspin… and here comes Dover!

There’s clotheslines for Kaspin, a German suplex for Skillet too, before a crossbody from Francis is caught and turned into a fallaway slam, but not before Skillet gets a back body drop in among all that! After avoiding the double-team slam, Jay-FK take down Dover… but the double-team neckbreaker gets countered as Dover hits the stacked-up bodyslam anyway.

Skillet looks to eat the Crossfire, but Kaspin pushes him out of harm’s way… and eats the duelling knees anyway. He’s the legal man and almost pays for it… but Skillet makes the save, before we jump to the finish as Dover looked for another fallaway slam, only for Jay to chop block Dover’s leg and hold it down a la Bobby Heenan as Kaspin stole the pin. A bit of an abrupt end to a match that was only just finding its stride… ***

PCO vs. David Starr
Having come up short against Ilja Dragunov at Broken Rules (and against Absolute Andy on a house show in Gotha), PCO’s final match of his current wXw tour sees him up against David Starr… who seems to be having a few matches against bigger lads as of late.

Oh, and his intro is so long the Shotgun theme LOOPS.

So we start with PCO tossing Starr out of the ring, as I noticed (live) that his wrist tape is just duct tape… and his kickpads are held on by electrical tape. Eh, if it saves a buck or two! PCO’s all over Starr early, resisting shoulder charges as we get a random zoom in on the stairs before Starr tweaks some fingers to try and escape a chokeslam. Instead, he gets chopped. Lots.

PCO switches it up with a pumphandle bomb for a near-fall, following it up with a running back senton that damn near flattened Starr. More chops take Starr into the corner, where he’s met with an Irish whip, a clothesline and a brutal DDT as Starr just couldn’t get into gear. A running forearm into the corner leaves Starr wobbly, but he’s able to fight back with chops and Han Stansen-like lariats as the former Shotgun champion was having to survive this one… but he’s quickly sent outside as PCO connects with a tope. Back inside, Starr catches PCO up top with a dropkick before a superplex attempt is shoved away, and PCO’s back in with a discus forearm.

A Dragon suplex sends Starr out of the corner for a near-fall, but Starr’s back with more Han Stansens until he’s caught with another PCO chop. More of those lariats are just shrugged off as PCO busts out… a Destroyer?! The hell? A buckle bomb is next, as is a pop-up powerbomb and a brutal running knee as Starr was sent into the ropes, which he had to grab to keep the match alive.

Starr catches a PCO dive with a Cherry Mint DDT, before his attempt at a leap off the top just earns him a chokeslam as PCO decided to go up top for a moonsault. Luckily, Starr rolls away and jumps on PCO with a crossface as he tried to capitalise… PCO rolls out of the crossface for a near-fall, but Starr’s got more of those Han Stansens as he seemed to get desperate. Finally one of them knocks PCO down for a near-fall, before superkicks just brought PCO back to his feet… and from there we’ve another Han Stansen before a Product Placement finally leaves PCO down. This wasn’t a blood-and-guts PCO outing, but this was ideal for where it was on the card. Post-match Starr made the universal belt sign (or perhaps he’s finishing off his DDP Yoga?), as I guess he has designs on gold. ***

RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali)
A curiously thrown together match here saw RISE back on the main card after they were left off of Broken Rules entirely.

Ali and Bouncer started us off with a tie-up that led to nought, before Bouncer looked to ground Ali with a hammerlock. That’s eventually fought out of as Ali hits a hiptoss and a low dropkick that almost sent himself into the ropes for the impact. LSG’s in to keep hold of Bouncer with an armbar, before an attempt at a slam is almost lost as Bouncer ends up tagging out to Kiev, who puts the boots in.

There’s some back and forth as LSG scores with headscissors before he runs into a boot to the gut, which gets followed up on with a sidewalk slam/legdrop combo as RISE eased ahead. LSG tries to chop his way back in, before a snapmare from LSG turned into a pinning attempt as Bouncer was almost put away. A springboard forearm from LSG gets another near-fall, before Ali tagged in and scored with a big splash for another near-fall.

Bouncer’s cornered for some shoulder charges as a butterfly suplex gets LSG… yep, a two-count! A fightback from Bouncer ends with him taking a double-team hiptoss facebuster, with Ali looking to keep up the momentum with some Three Amigos! Two of them come off before Bouncer fought free, dropping him with a back suplex before Kiev and LSG get tagged in.

A neckbreaker from Kiev puts LSG in the corner, before a top rope leg lariat finds its mark for another near-fall. There’s a facebuster out of LSG as he then mocked the RISE pose, only to get caught with a full nelson slam from Bouncer… Ali drops Bouncer with a lifting Flatliner as we’re all about the Parade of Moves, which nearly gets Coast 2 Coast the upset. All four men end up in the ring again, but it leads to the end as Bouncer takes the pin on LSG with a DDT – a move the wXw site tagged as “Self Justice”. Hmm, a former RISE leader has dibs on that name! This was a pretty solid midcard tag, but hurt by it being a “babyface match” with the crowd not really sure who to back. ***

Wesna vs. Alpha Female
After starring over World Tag Team League weekend, Wesna’s back! Alpha’s back for the first time since FAN in Oberhausen in September, having been “suspended” in storyline for an attack on Christian Jakobi on Shotgun.

The crowd’s hot and want a brawl here… but first the two stop to soak in the duelling chants amid a tie-up that went nowhere. Alpha wants a test of strength, but instead she’s kicked in the leg as the pair eventually look to trade off on shoulder tackles. A swift forearm to the face by Alpha looks to turn up the intensity, before she caught a kick and nailed Wesna with a spinning backfist, following up with a snapmare and some clubbing blows to the chest.

A chinbar’s fought out of by Wesna, but she’s put right back down with a forearm, before a Samoan drop out of nowhere caught Alpha, who rolls onto the steps in the crowd for some respite. Wesna rolls out too and joins her in the crowd, trading forearms before Alpha threw her into a fan’s seat… they head up towards the back of the stand, where Alpha’s thrown into a wXwNOW banner, seemingly catching her elbow in the process.

Both women return to the ring, but Alpha’s straight out of the blocks with a lariat and some ground and pound as she looked to make Wesna tap to an Anaconda Vise. Wesna makes it to the ropes as the pair then go back and forth with more forearms to the chest, until a spear from Alpha catches Wesna for another near-fall. Alpha tries for a deadlift German suplex, but Wesna slips out and unloads with a series of kicks, one of them catching Alpha in the head… and that’s it! A head kick knock out as Wesna gets the win against the run of play! This was pretty solid, but the sudden finish hurt it in my eyes. An enjoyable match with a little bit of something for everyone, but I’m not entirely sure that was the planned finish. I guess we’ll see if Wesna’s back… **¾

wXw Shotgun Championship: Lucky Kid vs. Marius al-Ani (c)
We started this one with Tarkan Aslan being ejected before the bell, and this nearly ended early as Lucky Kid went for a crossface early, only for Marius to roll out and into an ankle lock as both men weren’t being paid by the hour!

A low dropkick sends Marius outside, but while Lucky normally doesn’t bother with dives, he changed his tack and hit a somersault plancha to Marius on the outside. Back inside, Marius catches Lucky as he came through the ropes, landing a dropkick to the knee as the title challenger was instantly put on the back foot.

An Indian deathlock from Marius traps Lucky in the middle of the ring, but after getting free Lucky mounted a comeback… only to get clobbered with a clothesline. Marius keeps up with a bodyslam as Lucky wasn’t allowed to regain his momentum, as al-Ani seemed to get a little frustrated at how he couldn’t put his foe away. Roughing up Lucky in the corner, Marius ends up getting pushed away before his attempt at a German suplex… is flipped out of! A forearm has Lucky see-sawing in and out of the ring as he lands an Asai DDT for a near-fall, before an attempt at a Ligerbomb’s blocked as we continue the back-and-forth. Lucky fells Marius with a chop to the chest, but a dropkick the other way stems the tide.

Lucky avoids a step-up elbow drop as he tries to go back to the crossface, only for Marius to power up and run into an Alabama slam for a near-fall. Up top, Lucky fights away from Marius, slipping away from a superplex into a Ligerbomb that is also countered, as al-Ani comes back in with the slingshot/sunset flip/kip-up Exploder combo for a near-fall. That step-up elbow drop’s next as Marius then heads back to the top for a frog splash, but Lucky’s out at two… and here comes Tarkan Aslan to interfere! Ivan Kiev and Pete Bouncer are also on hand to drag out Aslan as he went to use the brass knuckles… but they miss him leaving the knuckles in the ring. With that distraction taken care of, Lucky looked to get back into it, but he’s forced to roll out of an ankle lock before scoring with a Ligerbomb for a near-fall – as Tarkan tried to storm the ring again.

Referee Rainer Ringer gets involved again, this time ejecting Aslan again as Lucky Kid eyed up those knuckles. Luckily, the camera team don’t go overboard on things, letting the action speak for itself rather than dramatically zooming up on Lucky’s conflicted eyes… Lucky ends up clocking Marius with the brass knuckles, then puts him in the crossface again… but before Marius can tap, the lights go out!

The lights come back up with someone in the ring… it’s Da Mack! Hamburg erupts for their hometown hero, who stared down Lucky Kid, who’s distracted for long enough for Marius to roll him up for the cheap win. This was a pretty good match with its own self-contained story… and one that quickly bled into the wider picture thereafter. ***¼

Post-match, Lucky Kid charged at Da Mack, but ends up running into a brass knuckle shot from Tarkan Aslan. Ivan Kiev and Pete Bouncer try to make the save, but Bouncer eats an Unprettier from Mack, as we were left with Marius, Tarkan and Mack standing tall over the laid-out Bouncer, Lucky and Kiev. If you count Marius al-Ani as “new RISE”, we’ve got an interesting little feud here, with RISE perhaps, erm, going back to their roots?

That being said, it may be a little too soon to do an all-RISE Käfigschlacht at Back to the Roots, given we’ve barely two months to build it in, and not many shows now Shotgun’s gone.

Veit Müller vs. Timothy Thatcher
A match offered by Thatcher since he needed something to do with WALTER being on the other side of the world, we had all the makings of a catch classic with another hometown hero in Veit Müller.

“Wir woll’n die Keiler sehen” rang around the Markthalle as Thatcher took him into the ropes, before an attempt at a single leg crab’s blocked. The pair go for a Greco-Roman tie-up that turns into a test of strength that Müller won on, but he couldn’t pin Thatcher’s shoulders down and instead gets his arm kicked away by the RINGKAMPF member instead. Müller looks for a toe hold as he has Thatcher down, but it’s reversed as Thatcher pulls him away from the ropes and into a bow and arrow hold. Uppercuts follow from Müller, who’s met with a goozle and a palm strike to the head as Thatcher took him right back down with a back suplex, with Thatcher berating the crowd as he pulled back on a chinlock.

Thatcher keeps up the aggression with some knees before a back suplex’s countered in mid-air by Müller for a near-fall. The counters continue as Müller reverses a RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly, but he ends up taking one from Thatcher moments later before Müller’s forced into the ropes to escape a cross armbreaker from Thatcher.

Veit’s back with uppercuts, but Thatcher’s throwing them too as they peppered each other around the ring. Another goozle and slap from Thatcher earns an instant response in kind from Müller, who then followed up with a running European uppercut before Thatcher caught him with an enziguiri. The crazy eyes are back as a Gojira clutch and a RINGKAMPF butterfly suplex looked to follow, but Veit counters with a back body drop as he almost dumped Thatcher on his head with the landing.

A gutwrench suplex is next from Müller, as was a cravat suplex, before Thatcher countered another toe hold into a Fujiwara armbar for the instant tap. This was a low-key banger if you’re into the grounded game – both Thatcher and Müller brought it, and my only disappointment was that this was sub-ten minutes. Hopefully there’s a rematch (or several) down the line in more prominent circumstances! ****

Post-match, Thatcher made an announcement that had been teased on social media earlier in the week, regarding the future of RINGKAMPF. Don’t worry, they’re not splitting up – Thatcher, WALTER and the returning Axel Dieter Jr. will be teaming up to face British Strong Style in a trios match at the 18th Anniversary show. Hopefully with restricted comedy BS!

Backstage, we’ve a segment where Laurance Roman “quit” Monster Consulting after his loss in Dresden… then ahead of the next match, Alexander James came out and told us that Jurn Simmons was off the show due to illness. Not to worry though, he’d found himself a new man-servant – Allan Pain! The Aussie had been seen in the pre-show as Kellyanne’s manager, whom was described as “a man who has veins in places most people don’t have places”. After some shittalking about Hamburg, James finds out whom Avalanche’s mystery man is… Emil Sitoci! Along with a LOT of talk about Dirty Dragan… and when someone’s name keeps being brought up in wrestling, you know what that means.

Alexander James & Allan Pain vs. Avalanche & Emil Sitoci
James jumps Sitoci before the bell as he put the boots to the Dutchman… who rebounded by knocking Pain off the apron and taking Jams into the corner with some lucha-style armdrags.

A pop-up ‘rana’s next as some punches to the head catch James offguard… and in comes Avalanche who lifts Sitoci up into an assisted moonsault before a big splash gets a near-fall with Pain breaking up the count. Sitoci superkicks Pain before he can get involved, allowing Avalanche to properly dump James with a Black Hole Slam and an, ahem, avalanche in the corner. There’s a Beele throw out of the corner next, as Pain pulls James to freedom as a second avalanche was incoming. James follows up by wrapping Avalanche’s leg around the ring post. Conveniently, Pain now wants in as he puts the boots to Avalanche, and some elbow drops to the leg, softening the limbs up as James tried to grapevine the legs for a submission.

An attempted single leg crab from James is shoved off as Pain comes back in, but he just runs into a big back body drop (cheers!), before Sitoci tags in and lands a big crossbody! There’s a gutbuster to Pain, then a split-legged moonsault, which James breaks up the cover on… AJ scarpers as he’s about to take a Snapmare Driver, and just watches on as Pain takes the move instead, before Avalanche tagged in and finishes off the Aussie with a stacked up Boulder Dash. Ow. This was entertaining enough, but very short. With no Jurn you lost a lot of the story – still, Pain bumped like a trooper, as the Avalanche/Sitoci team built up steam for something down the line. **¾

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Absolute Andy vs. Ilja Dragunov
So before a bell could ring, Andy superkicked Tassilo Jung… then goes under the ring for a chair. Rainer Ringer, the only other referee on duty today, eats a Torpedo Moscau as he tried to get rid of the chair… and we’ve got a WAR! Well, we will do once Andy quits running away!

They run through the crowd and end up on the other side of the venue as Ilja chops his way through Andy, but there’s an instant response from Andy as he throws his own chops before booting Ilja into the front row. A little too close for comfort!

Ilja throws Andy into the ring, where he’s met with an uppercut from the Unified World Wrestling Champion… who proceeded to batter the interim champion around the ring with chops. A rake to the eyes followed before Ilja pulls away from a goozle and takes down Andy for a back senton. There’s a lariat for Andy too, but with no referee available, this is all for nought, and Andy smartly rolls to the outside to avoid a flying back senton off the top… which suckers Ilja outside as they make it onto the stage.

More chops just rile Ilja, who runs into a back body drop on the stage before he’s carried back into the ring… where he pops up and runs back out with a tope into Andy! Ilja finds himself on top, but Andy superplexes him as another back senton loomed. There’s a regular suplex from Andy, then a boot to the face as Ilja demanded more… and got it, including a legdrop across the apron. The barrage of European uppercuts keep Ilja on jelly legs, but only briefly as he managed to catch Andy with a back suplex… then a back senton off the top rope! We’re still without a referee though, so Ilja looks to follow up with a Torpedo Moscau, only to run into a big boot that sends him onto the apron… where Andy looked to suplex him back into the ring from, only for Ilja to clear the crowd as he had designs on taking Andy into the seating area!

Eventually Andy blocks it, as Ilja had to head up top… where he’s again caught before Andy rudely knocked him off the top and into the front row. Back in the ring, Andy has a chair, which he happily uses on Ilja… and SMASHES, which looked to have Ilja fearing for a loose staple or bit of wood getting in his eye.

Andy revives Tassilo Jung after that, plugging in his “life support” (earpiece)… but Tass remembers he’d not started the match, so he’s not going to count the pin! Ilja’s beckoned back to his feet and finally, the bell rings!

An F5 quickly follows, but Ilja kicks out at two! A superkick’s cued up, but Ilja catches it and hits back before responding with a lariat as both men were left laying. Andy’s back up with more chops, which Ilja absorbs like they’re nothing as he returned fire with a barrage of body blows and a DDT, before running into a spinebuster as Andy tries to make out with a Sharpshooter.

Ilja manages to get to the ropes as his second wind sees him land an enziguiri and some lariats, including a rebound lariat after a 619-like swivel in the ropes… but it’s still not enough to leave Andy down. There’s a death valley driver from Ilja, which leaves Andy in the corner ahead of a trio of Coast to Coasts, but the third one’s cut-off in mid air with an Andy superkick – keeping that thread alive from last year’s World Tag Team League – only for Ilja to save the match as he grabs Tass’ hand to prevent the three-count. The facial expressions ALONE sold that!

We’ve more back and forth as Ilja had another burst of energy, taking down Andy with a back body drop… before a second one just dumped Andy into Tass. It’s not the worst bump he’s had, just check his timeline to see him take an ugly shotgun dropkick from WALTER…

Rainer Ringer emerges… but Andy instantly knocks him off the apron as a Torpedo Moscau hits… with no referee again! Tass is revived again after an avalanche F5, but Ilja kicks out once again, prompting Andy to go underneath the ring for another chair. Good God, no! Except this time, Andy goes all Eddie Guerrero on us, feigning a chairshot and throwing the “evidence” to Ilja, just as Tass turns around.

Ilja has to go nuclear to stop Tass from disqualifying him. Luckily, Rainer Ringer saw it all and filled in the blanks, before Ilja turned around into a low blow… then an A-Klasse as Andy, through the foulest of means, regained the title he never lost. He looked delighted as the crowd showered their boos down on him – and now we’re back on the same path we were before World Tag Team League. Whether you factor in the long “pre-match brawl” or not, this was a solid match with plenty of story in the contest, as Ilja survived the war but once again fell to the “Veteraan”’s underhanded tactics. ***¾

The live perspective – the Markthalle looks a lot bigger on tape than it does in person, but it’s a wonderful venue, especially when the crowd is ON. The terraced standing at the back of the room is a unique touch, at least for my eyes anyway!

With the title unifier and the spark of the new RISE storyline, this was a show that began to set the table for bigger things, as all roads now point to the 18th Anniversary show in a month’s time. Don’t sleep on this show, even if some of the results may not have gone the way you wanted! Regardless of how you view this show, we’ll be making plans to return to Hamburg at some point – as much as we love the Turbinenhalle, the Markthalle may well have become one of our favourite venues for atmosphere in wrestling.