wXw Superstars of Wrestling 2017 (May 13, 2017)

The stars of Lucha Underground – and beyond – came to town as wXw’s Superstars of Wrestling provided us with a unique night’s action!

Whereas 16 Carat Gold may have been a series of shows “for smart marks”, Superstars of Wrestling is firmly aimed at a more casual base, which is evidenced by the names brought in for prior shows: Jeff Jarrett, Road Warrior Animal, Gangrel and X-Pac, to name a few. After two years of this been a two-day event, Superstars of Wrestling went back to being a single show, which may be for the better.

German TV station Tele5 co-promoted this event with wXw – and with Tele5 being the home of Lucha Underground in Germany, things now made a lot of sense! wXw set a new attendance record in the Luise-Albertz-Halle in Oberhausen, a venue that looked mighty impressive on camera. By the way, if you’re listening to the English feed, we’ve got Rico Bushido on commentary alongside Adam Polak, which may be interesting for a certain match later in the show…

Chris Colen & Francis Kaspin vs. Da Mack & “Hurricane” Shane Helms
During his entrance, I swear Colen tried to rib a fan in the front row into making him think his seat was at the back of the building…

Mack’s still trying to ride that wave from last year’s Cruiserweight Classic, and he’s starting off against Francis Kaspin – a man who’s tried to talk him out of his perceived slump in recent weeks. They exchange holds early on, with Mack cartwheeling out of a wristlock before sweeping Kaspin to the mat for a near-fall. A dropkick gets the same result, before Hurricane comes in and grabs a waistlock on Kaspin, who was able to crawl out to tag in Chris Colen.

Colen and Helms do push ups to some cheers from a ridiculously easy crowd, before Hurricane poses his way into a Colen bump. A bodyslam from Colen follows, but Hurricane comes in for some slightly risque comedy as he kicks Kaspin into dry-humping his partner in the corner. We don’t judge!

Mack somehow handstands after a clothesline as Colen followed back with a stalling suplex, which led to Mack getting isolated from the Hurricane as Kaspin wrenched away on him. Mack fought free, only to get tripped and walked over by the relative newcomer as Colen came back to keep chopping away.

The top rope cannonball finally gives Mack a ray of hope, as does an enziguiri, before Hurricane gets tagged back in to land some clotheslines and uppercuts. Helms looks for a chokeslam, but Kaspin elbows and dropkicks himself free, before a crossbody knocked down the Hurricane outside. That allowed Mack to rush in with a PK on the apron to Kaspin, before taking him down with a cannonball off the apron… and holy hell, Chris Colen dives too, connecting with a tope!

Rip Rogers, eat your heart out!

Hurricane returns to try for a chokeslam, but Colen countered it into a uranage for a near-fall, before a Nightmare on Helms Street forced Kaspin to break up the cover. Helms goes for a double chokeslam, but after Mack flew in to take down Kaspin, he ends up just taking down Colen for the win! Pretty good for the opener, nothing too insane, but perfect for this crowd! **¾

Bobby Gunns vs. Drago
On paper this match is a very weird bit of booking, but lets see how this fusion between wXw and Lucha Underground plays out.

Drago punches Gunns as he looked to start off with a smoking break, and it’s Drago who pushes the issue at the start, sweeping the leg for an early near-fall as we had a nice little sprint to kick us off. Gunns responds by connecting with his hip thrust into Drago’s face, before stomping on the masked man’s arm and delivering a powerbomb – only for Drago to kick back into it.

Gunns quickly backdrops Drago onto the apron, but Dragon leaps back in to avoid a dropkick, as he instead flew with a plancha to the outside. A rope-hung armbar is Gunn’s response as he took his time returning to the ring, before a diving back elbow sends Drago into the corner as Gunns started to build some momentum.

We get a shout-out to Rick Rude with some hip swivelling as Gunns wrenches back with an Indian deathlock, before he switches up into a bow and arrow lock and the into a roll-up for a near-fall. Drago frees himself and applies an inverted figure four, but Gunns is able to reach for the ropes, before Drago rolls him into a prawn hold for another near-fall.

The pair go back and forth until Gunns lands an overhead belly to belly, before catching Drago in a cross armbreaker out of nowhere for the submission. This was fine, their styles didn’t clash too badly, but you got the impression the casual crowd wanted to see Drago go over… but wXw’s got their own promotion to worry about, so I wasn’t too bothered by the result. **¾

After the match, Drago kicks Gunns low and rushes in with a flipping neckbreaker – almost like Will Ospreay’s Rainham-Maker – to some scattered chants of “thank you Drago”.

WALTER vs. Kim Ray
The latest iteration of “wrestlers defend the honour of Christian Michael Jakobi and Karsten Beck” continued here with WALTER and Kim Ray – Germany’s answer to Mike Bailey!

They quickly spill to the outside where Ray scores with a PK off the apron to WALTER, who replied by dumping Ray with a back suplex onto the apron, before dropping Kim with a big boot to the face. Another boot cuts off Ray after some clotheslines, before WALTER misses a dropkick and gets knocked down with a PK.

Kim unloads with a series of kicks to WALTER’s chest, before Jakobi sticks his hand in and trips Ray for long enough for him to fall into WALTER’s sleeperhold and the eventual German suplex combo as WALTER gives Kim a taste of his own medicine with some kicks. Of course, those are returned, before WALTER catches a sleeperhold and boots Ray’s face clean off.

The camera focuses on Jakobi and Beck going face to face at ringside whilst WALTER tries for a butterfly superplex… but somehow Ray kicked out just in time. WALTER toys with Ray again as the pair go back and forth with forearms, leading to Ray making a comeback with a big clothesline, but again WALTER boots him en route to a lariat for another near-fall.

Exasperated, WALTER goes for a powerbomb, but Ray escapes and hits a head kick before launching the Austrian with an Exploder. Jakobi gets involved again as Ray was going for a diving dropkick, which allows WALTER to charge in with a Yakuza kick in the corner. There’s more involvement from Beck and Jakobi, with the former being shoved into the ring post, before WALTER kicks away the leg of Ray en route to an ankle lock for the submission. I’m not sold on Kim Ray – at least with his current arsenal of kicks and precious little else – but this seems to be building up to WALTER and Karsten Beck once he’s 100%, so I was okay with this as part of a bigger story. ***¼

Ahead of the next match, two men – Günter Zapf and Mike Ritter – came out to do commentary instead of the usual wXw pairing of Christian Bischof and Sebastian Hollmichel. As a wild guess, I’m guessing they’re the commentary team for Lucha Underground on Tele5?

Relaxed Rules: “Bad Bones” John Klinger vs. Vampiro
Vampiro’s out in his face paint, and he attacks Klinger in the aisle as they start the match by brawling around the ringside area. It’s safe to say that Vampiro is the crowd favourite – which is something given that a) he’s the American announcer for Lucha Underground and b) he’s not wrestled regularly for years.

On that note, I’m also glad that we didn’t have Matt Striker. Either wrestling or commentating here.

So yeah, we start with brawling around the ringside area, where they quickly move to the commentary table where Vampiro wanted to attack Klinger with a volume mixer? He decides that’s probably not for the best, before pouring a fan’s beer over himself, as he’s dropkicked off the apron by Klinger.

A chair comes into play, with Vampiro using it to barely swat away a tope from Klinger. Next up is a table, but Vampiro takes a back body drop as he teased powerbombing Klinger through it. They end up back inside where Klinger takes a chairshot to the back, prompting the crowd to ask for some more, but instead of another chairshot we get Klinger lowblowing his way free of some mounted punches… sending Vampiro off the top rope and into a chair, which Klinger quickly missile dropkicked him out of.

Klinger heads under the ring for more plunder, and pulls out another table to the delight of the crowd, before setting up two chairs together on their side for one of Klinger’s regular torture devices. Vampiro avoids a suplex onto them, before catching Bad Bones up top for a belly-to-belly superplex that woke the crowd up big time!

A chokeslam onto a chair follows as Vampiro gets a near-fall, and chants of “you’ve still got it”. Which is immediately followed by Vampiro missing a spinning heel kick as Bones spears him through a table in the corner for a near-fall. Klinger goes outside and pulls out two Kendo sticks from under the ring and uses them on Vampiro, before going back for another chair… which he misses a shot with as Vampiro just launches another chair to the German’s head.

Vampiro head up top and misses a corkscrew senton, leaving him prey for Klinger’s middle rope Codebreaker, then another tope, before they head back out to that table that Vampiro had set up earlier… by the lighting rig. Oh God… Klinger climbs the rig and does a mini Shane McMahon, dropping an elbow to put Vampiro through the table – and that’s all folks, as Klinger eventually rolls Vampiro back into the ring and takes the pin. Given the limitations, this was alright- definitely not anything special, but it was a nice change of pace. **

wXw Tag Team Championship: Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) vs. A4 (Marius al-Ani & Absolute Andy) (c)
We’re back to the regular wXw commentary team here as the Young Lions challenged A4 for the wXw tag titles… in their re-debut of sorts. The Lions work over al-Ani’s arm to start with, before falling into a tag which saw Andy try and get some offence, before a dropkick and Codebreaker kept the Lions on top.

Andy chops his way free of Aslan and Kid before al-Ani came back in to calm things down, before “Lucha Andy” came in with an elbow to the arm off the middle rope. Someone get that man a mask! Marius does the same, for similar chants, and it’s a case of wash, rinse and repeat for the champions!

Aslan takes a double-team suplex for a near-fall, before finding a tag out to Lucky Kid, who dropkicks al-Ani into the corner, before a handspring back elbow gets caught and turned into a suplex. Oh well! Andy tags in to hold Lucky Kid in a rather unlucky stalling suplex, which he followed up with an Absolute kneedrop, before Kid escaped an F5 attempt and brought in Aslan once more.

Tarkan’s knee strike takes down Andy, who replies with a clothesline as Lucky Kid succeeds with the handspring back elbow, only to get taken down with a rolling Exploder from al-Ani. Andy continues the pressure with a spinebuster, and a back body drop that Aslan almost didn’t rotate enough for.

Lucky Kid manages to dispose of Marius on the outside as the Lions combined for a double corner kick for a near-fall, as they then tried for the Circle of Life on Andy – the chop-assisted German suplex – but Marius broke up that cover. al-Ani tags in and unloads with some dropkicks, before landing the leaping seated senton onto Lucky Kid as a prelude for the F5/Frog splash combo.

Andy managed to land an F5 as Kid was thrown onto his partner, allowing A4 to finish off with their delayed double-team stunner on Kid. Tarkan Aslan charged at A4 before they could make the cover though, and accidentally took down referee Reine Ringer, which seemed to be the cue for three masked men in black t-shirts with RISE on them to hit the ring and take down A4 with their own title belts.

One of the masked men hits a death valley driver to Marius, before a second one hits a very familiar looking uranage. The third one completes the assault with a clothesline to Andy, before placing Lucky Kid onto Andy, shaking the referee in time to count the pin… and thanks to RISE, we have new tag team champions! The crowd booed this, but even before the interference, this was a pretty good match, even if the Lions were on the back foot for large spells! ***¼

After the match, the Young Lions were handed RISE t-shirts – before the hoods came off, to reveal the ringleader as Chris Colen! Sadly the over-dubbing of music removed any reaction to that, as he was joined by a pair called Pete Bouncer and Ivan Kiev, who’ve worked together in Germany as the Purge Club. I’m kinda sad that Colen’s heel turn didn’t come at the expense of Francis Kaspin, but that’s surely going to be visited down the line. As is the explanation for RISE being an invading force that somehow had its graphics and music cued up…

Jaxon Stone vs. Buff Bagwell
It came as a surprise to me that Bagwell is still fairly active on the indy scene… but it did not come as a surprise when Jaxon Stone made his entrance in a top hat, spoofing Buff. Nor the fact that Buff was over huge in Oberhausen, as he spent a large part of his entrance “too sweeting” fans who remembered when that was something from the nWo…

We start with a face-to-face promo as Stone berates Buff’s “old, washed-up, never-was” self. Of course, that leads to “who are you?” chants for Stone, before Bagwell chides Jaxon for being someone who wasn’t in WCW or WWF. Cheap pops come when Buff asks the crowd if they remember seeing him in WCW… or in WWF, and it seems there’s a lot of Germans with a good memory of Buff’s ONE televised match in a WWF ring.

After a long spell of playing to the crowd, including the boo/yay appeals – with the referee getting more cheers than Jaxon – and Buff egging on the crowd to chant “you suck” like at a WWE house show, we finally got underway. Buff lays into Jaxon after he stomped on his own top hat, and this started out very much like those WCW TV matches, with Buff hitting a clothesline and an atomic drop to take Stone to the outside.

Stone faceplants himself as he returns to the ring, but he takes the upper hand by choking on Buff in the ropes, before ramming him into the turnbuckle. Is this what Klinger/Vampiro would have been like without the smoke and mirrors, I wonder? A NERVE HOLD follows as Stone wears down Buff’s left shoulder, but Bagwell elbows free only to get yanked back to the mat. Jaxon mocks Buff’s mannerisms again before going back to the nerve hold, and then we end up with a double clothesline to knock both men down.

Except Buff rolled onto his knees pretty quick afterwards, as it was time for the comeback, landing clotheslines and back elbows before scoring a two-count from a neckbreaker. Somehow Buff had busted himself open in this, and after taking a mule kick in the ropes, he took the win with a Blockbuster… of course he didn’t, brother’s feet aren’t going to leave the mat anytime soon, especially after he’d used his bump for that double clothesline spot. It was a double underhook facebuster that mercifully put an end to a match that Stone got next to nothing in. This was a match which would have been barely passable on an early episode of Nitro, but just felt like paint by numbers here in 2017. ½* (and I feel I’m generous with that!)

Julian Nero vs. The Avalanche vs. Ilja Dragunov
We’re back into familiar territory as the smouldering wreck of Cerberus continued their war – whilst Julian Nero was busy handing out business cards for Nero Consulting. Fair enough!

I’ve not been sold on this feud, particularly as I fear that it’s cooling down Ilja after his 16 Carat Gold triumph. Given the crowd’s reaction here, it seems my worries are a little premature. We’ve switched to the English feed for this, and yes, Adam Polak on commentary is a little edgy about this match, although he’s putting himself over big time, which is a bit of a detraction.

There’s an impressive double Samoan drop from the Avalanche in the opening minute, as he uses his size and power to throw Ilja before he cannonballed into Nero in the corner as the big man dominated the opening stages. Ilja replies with a freaky strong Saito suplex – with the help of a Julian Nero dropkick – before we go to a tower of toom as Avalanche powerbombs Nero as he went for a superplex on Ilja.

We quickly go to the two-in, one-out format, with Ilja flying around to take down Nero with a back senton off the top for a near-fall, before he plays to the crowd and walks into a clothesline from Avalanche. An attempt at the Dreissker Bomb fails as Ilja got the knees up, allowing Avalanche to pop up into a Wasteland from Nero… this just feels like a shotgun of spots, with very little being able to sink in before we moved into the next one.

Nero lands a double axehandle to the floor as he targeted Avalanche, eventually landing a reverse DDT. Ilja throws in a back senton before Nero tries for a crossbody to send them both outside, as he returned to hit a top rope knee drop to almost win the contest. More staccato action sees Avalanche throw Ilja into a knee from Nero, before he stole the cover for a near-fall. The end came pretty quick after that, when a series of chops from Ilja led to him headbutting away an Avalanche clothesline, before he was drilled with a Blue Thunder Bomb for the win. Barely lasting ten minutes, they squeezed a LOT into this, and hardly any of it sunk in. It really did feel like they’d had their time cut, but this didn’t seem to be anything close to a story-ending match. **¾

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Matt Riddle vs. Jurn Simmons (c)
At last year’s Superstars of Wrestling shows, Jurn defended against Jeff Jarrett… so yeah, this is a massive upgrade, it has to be said.

Riddle instantly goes for an armbar, forcing Jurn to go for the ropes as we start with some grappling – a nice change from Simmons’ usual game, but it features a lot of rope breaks as Jurn looked to avoid the damage caused by Riddle climbing around him like a monkey. An overhead kick from Riddle knocks Simmons into the corner, ahead of a back senton that picked up an early near-fall.

Eventually Simmons blasted back into the match, charging Riddle into the corner before sending the former UFC fighter into the turnbuckles hard with some Irish whips. Simmons takes over, throwing Riddle around the ring, and keeping him at bay with some right hands and forearms before Riddle shocked him with a Bro to Sleep.

A German suplex nearly wins Riddle the title, before he receives one from Jurn… and pops back up! A second German is flipped out of as Riddle rushes back in with a knee, then a Fishermans buster for another near-fall, before the pair resorted to the striking game. Another overhead kick misses and is replied to with a clothesline as Jurn comes back with a gutwrench powerbomb for a near-fall.

Out of nowhere, Riddle lands a tombstone slam for a near-fall as Jurn took too much time posing, but he’s able to slip out of another Bro To Sleep and then snap into the piledriver to successfully retain the belt. At a shade over ten minutes, this too was fairly short, but nowhere near as rushed as other matches – although I’d like to see these two have a longer match in the future. ***½

wXw Shotgun Championship: Angelico vs. Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr vs. Emil Sitoci (c)
I’m not going to scratch my head too much over the trademark stuff, but Rey Fenix and Penta el Zero M went by their old names here as Emil Sitoci had to defend his Shotgun title against three of Lucha Underground’s finest.

When we get going, the Lucha Brothers of Penta and Fenix went to work on the other two, before a wacky series of missed moves, including Fenix’s roll-up frog splash that was going to miss before he even started! Adam Polak on commentary references Penta’s “new” name of Pentagon Dark, tying it into the Lucha Underground story that I’ve yet to even start thanks to them not considering the UK as a marketplace…

Penta kicks away a back body from from Angelico and flies in with some Slingblades before going to work on his brother, with Fenix grabbing an arm for a springboard armdrag off the top rope, before a headscissor takedown has the crowd go wild… until Emil Sitoci comes in to throw in a couple of lucha armdrags! The Lucha Brothers return to drag Angelico to the outside, before they turn their guns on each other, with Fenix flipping off some Cero Miedo before they turn around into kicks from Angelico and Sitoci… and eventually kick each other as all four men are laid out!

We go to Angelico and Pentagon trading kicks and shots, as Angelico’s knee knocks Penta into the ropes before an upkick gets a near-fall, with Sitoci running in to break up the pin and land a gutbuster en route to a split legged moonsault. Fenix breaks up that cover with a slingshot double stomp, then manages to hit a 619 in the corner as a set-up for a vicious double stomp to Sitoci… which led to a cover that a hard kick from Penta rudely broke up.

After Fenix got back to his feet, Penta… kicked his brother’s leg out of his leg! Owen Hart reference week continues here as I’ve gotten that into pretty much everything this week! Fenix returns with a back elbow, before leaping off the middle rope into a pumphandle driver for a near-fall that has Penta arguing with referee Tassilo Jung. Angelico rushes back to the ring to kick Penta onto the top turnbuckle, but he’s knocked down into an Ace crusher by Fenix, who is nearly killed by a leap-down Destroyer from Penta, who was then caught by a spin-out tombstone by Sitoci!

Angelico ends that run with a knee that might have meant to have been a Codebreaker to Sitoci, as all four men laid out to the roar of the crowd. Cue “fight forever” chants – which just happens to be the name of the next wXw tour…

Sitoci and Fenix get up first to trade blows, before Sitoci leapt to the outside into a plancha on Penta, as Fenix launched himself into a tornillo on the pair. Angelico completes the set of dives with a tope con hilo! Fenix decides to go back to the apron to slug it out with Sitoci, before superkicking him to the apron and springboarding up for a double stomp to the Dutchman’s back!

The insanity continues with a Fear Factor on the apron from Penta to Fenix, before a Penta springboard is quickly thwarted with an enziguiri from Angelico. Sitoci nearly ends it with a couple of roll-ups, before a backslide from Sitoci’s rolled through into a knee strike by Angelico, who kept up with the Fall of the Angels bucklebomb… and out of nowhere, that’s enough to end this swift spotfest! A fun main event, but like most of the good matches here, this could have done with being a little longer – but at least it wasn’t a disposable multi-man match, I guess! ****¼

This was a veritable mixed bag of a show, with very high highs, and painfully low lows. Superstars of Wrestling is absolutely a show for the more casual fanbase, and with the Tele5 partnership, wXw were able to capitalise on the arrival of Lucha Underground in Germany by throwing in some names from those shores that could actually still go. Well, apart from Vampiro. The less said about his and Buff’s matches the better, but if you can ignore that Bagwell/Stone match, you’ve got a fun show with pretty much something on offer for everyone.

As usual, wXw’s momentum continues to improve, as they head to their end-of-tour show in Cologne – Shortcut to the Top – as their 30-man Rumble takes the company into a summer break. Next up though, another feature event in Hamburg in early June, with Emil Sitoci somehow getting a title shot after losing here… but against Jurn Simmons after beating him in Frankfurt a few weeks ago.