wXw’s annual Superstars of Wrestling show proved to be more than just a tag line as two of the company’s biggest stars changed it up. A LOT.
Over 800 fans packed the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen. We’ve got Rico Bushido on commentary alongside Andy Jackson as the Turbinenhalle is a mostly-seated affair for this one.
Wheeler Yuta vs. WALTER
This is a massive mismatch in terms of size and experience… add in that WALTER’s got a bee in his bonnet over how Yuta cheated to beat Veit Müller in the past, and this isn’t going to be good for Wheeler.
Yuta had some brief offence with an Octopus stretch, but he was having to stick and move around WALTER… who sent him flying to the floor early on. That kinda put WALTER on track as he proceeded to chop Yuta, before forcing him down for a stomp from a test of strength. Yuta gets a second wind, taking WALTER outside for a dive after he made the Austrian chop the ring post. That seemed to daze WALTER for a spell, but a big lariat ends up putting away Yuta in fairly short order. This felt a lot like the establishing “you’re good, but nowhere near my level” match that this should have been – complete with even more surly WALTER. A good opener. ***
After the match, WALTER offers a handshake… then suckers Yuta.
Joey Janela’s arriving at the venue when he’s stopped by Bobby Gunns. Joey wants to take the title back to the US… then notes that the X in wXw stood for “xtreme”… teases a balcony dive, as they seemed to be leaning into the idea of their match being a streetfight.
Lucky Kid vs. Brian Cage
Lucky was out with the rest of RISE for his match against the Impact champion. You got the sense early on he needed more than moral support when Cage chopped through him, then picked him up by the neck and threw him back to the mat.
A handspring kick takes Cage outside as Lucky flew into the front row with a tope con giro, as much like the opener, sticking and moving was likely to be his only hope. As soon as Cage got the chance to use his size and power, it was one-way traffic again, with a cat-skinning Asai DDT helping Lucky Kid to stem the flow. Cage is back in it though with powerbombs, then a deadlift superplex, before Lucky shot his shot with a wheelbarrow roll-up and a death valley driver… before a swinging backbreaker, then a spiking flatliner led to a near-fall. Lucky gets a second wind, only to be stopped on the top rope by Absolute Andy, as the distraction delayed a 450 splash. That misses, and Cage wins with a screwdriver. This was fine, but I’m guessing Lucky Kid’s stuttering form since Carat is going to mean he’s now on course to face Absolute Andy. Cage was just too big and too strong for Lucky here, and I guess you could point to RISE perhaps costing Lucky in the end? ***
They replay Julian Pace’s last few months, from winning at 16 Carat Gold, to getting beaten down by a returning Emil Sitoci… and then getting bullied by the Crown.
Emil Sitoci & The Crown (Alexander James & Jurn Simmons) vs. Avalanche & Vollgasteren (Julian Pace & Leon van Gasteren)
I like how Sitoci gets a different overdub to everyone else…
There’s two feuds on the go here: Sitoci/Avalanche and Crown/Vollgasteren. Sitoci tags out early, so it’s Avalanche and James in the opening stages, before the Crown got back body dropped into each other as Pace came in. Sitoci quickly cracks him with a superkick as we got a Parade of Moves, featuring James’ ripcord back elbow before Jurn had to crotch Pace from a springboard moonsault. A Burning Hammer onto the ropes hung up Pace for the Rains of Castamere as the Crown settled into a groove. Pace managed to get free as Leon van Gasteren had the crowd chanting his music, but he’s quickly overwhelmed as the Crown continued to double-team. Sitoci capitalises with an elbow off the top for a near-fall, but Avalanche is quickly in too… and of course Emil refuses to fight.
The Crown refuse to tag out, so Avalanche gets him some, albeit briefly, before he had to refocus on the Crown, scoring with a flying double clothesline. Avalanche teases flying, but Sitoci gets involved and lands a tope to everyone, then a spear to Pace, before Avalanche returned to land a fallaway slam. The Dreissker Bomb misses as Sitoci not-so-rage quits on us all. There’s a cute line from Andy Jackson about whether that’s the “Drive of a Champion” (nice plug for the next big show!). In the end, Jurn takes a Stunner like Scott Hall, before Pace’s Best Moonsault Ever gets the win. This had its moments, and I’m sure the stuff between Avalanche and Sitoci will pay-off – it just doesn’t really click on the VOD. As for the Crown, man… I want to boo them, but I also want them to win too. Their time will come, I’m sure. ***¼
Veit Müller vs. Ken Shamrock
This was a massive challenge for Müller, taking on a beast-like Ken Shamrock. He may be in his 50s, but he’s bloody massive.
Rico and Andy reminisce on commentary as Shamrock worked over Müller’s wrist, before Veit managed to escape and find a rear naked choke… but Ken breaks the grip as the pair struggle over the hold. When Ken got out, he hits a belly-to-belly, then an ankle lock, before Veit tapped. That was quick, and one that seemed to just dish up the greatest hits of auld Ken. **
Marius Al-Ani vs. Ilja Dragunov
This seemed to be a blow-off from the recent scuffles these two have had from the Road to True Colors onwards, and it started with Marius poking the proverbial bear in Ilja, which led to him getting taken outside for a tope.
Despite that, al-Ani looked to create an advantage, as Marius kicked Ilja’s leg out of his leg before slingshotting him into that bottom rope. Ilja takes a whip into the corner in a nasty way… not helped when he’s thrown into the same corner as al-Ani looked to target Dragunov’s neck. The across-the-turnbuckles dive from al-Ani caught Ilja unawares… but Dragunov was able to force an opening, complete with a leaping neckbreaker for a near-fall. A powerbomb keeps Ilja ahead before the Coast to Coast connected, before Ilja got caught up top with a superplex. Marius keep up with his usual comeback – sunset flip, kip up and Exploder – before he dropkicked away the Konstantin Spezial clothesline.
A frog splash nearly gets Marius the big win, but instead it’s the wrecking ball knees the back then the frog splash that gets the win. A shockingly clean win for Marius, who took quite a lot of the match here. Whether that translates to anything remains to be seen, as the casual crowd here didn’t seem to have much of an effect… ***¼
They announce that CIMA, T-Hawk and El Lindaman will be appearing at Shortcut to the Top.
Aussie Open & Hardcore Holly (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Absolute Andy & Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet)
Well isn’t this a wacky trio?
Absolute Andy’s got a new t-shirt, and a penchant for pouring water over fans, while Jay-FK’s back to their belt thieving ways… still, Davis and Fletcher looked to be having a ball as they had Holly smash Andy’s glasses before the bell. Holly’s right hand sent Andy outside for cover… but he gets another pair of glasses from a fan as the comedy continued.
When the match got going, it wasn’t long before the crowd started to chant for Hardcore Holly to tag in to face Andy. This looks like an easy, easy match… even more so when Andy bailed to avoid facing Holly. Kaspin gets pushed through a turnbuckle when Holly charged him into the corner, before the former Intercontinental champion had his way with Kaspin. Skillet helped out to superkick away an Alabama Slam, as Holly was on the defensive briefly. Things swung around when Aussie Open came in to pancake Andy, but Kyle had to survive some triple-teaming before bringing in Mark Davis for his usual comeback. It’s still 3-on-1 somehow, but Andy heads up top and gets caught a la Ric Flair, press slammed to the mat. That took us to virtually a handicap match, until Andy returned with spinebusters ahoy.
Andy gets poked in the eye, which led to the comedy spot of Aussie Open, Hardcore Holly and Rainer Ringer suplexing Jay-FK and Absolute Andy, before an Alabama Slam put away Jay Skillet. This was easy to watch, and I suspect almost as easy to be a part of. If you’re expecting big workrate, this probably isn’t the place to look, but I was entertained as hell with this. **¾
Hardcore Holly exited stage left as Aussie Open remained in the ring to talk about the Open Challenge they issued for Drive of Champions in Hamburg. They want to face any tag team in wXw… and they got an unexpected challenge in the form of Ilja Dragunov? He’s out clutching his shoulder from earlier, but Ilja’s just a distraction… because WALTER comes through the crowd and lays out Aussie Open with his NXT UK title.
WALTER and Dragunov get chants of “NXT” as they wiped out the champions… but they’re not here for the crowd. WALTER takes the mic and shared credit for wXw being where they are today with Ilja… After WALTER called the crowd an “arrogant pile of scum”, Ilja told the crowd that they’re doing this out of love of wXw, before WALTER declared that they were no longer “wXw guys” – they are superstars.
There’s a shower of boos for that one. WALTER & Ilja as the guys who made it and now find their “old home” beneath them is certainly a direction, but one that I’m extremely intrigued to see where it goes.
wXw Women’s Championship: Valkyrie vs. Amale vs. Killer Kelly vs. Toni Storm (c)
There’s new gear for Amale, as I’m a little surprised at how even the build’s been for this. Yeah, Amale’s had a few more promos and been more vocal about the title, but in the ring, there’s not really been a clear lead among the three challengers.
It’s a frantic start as we get the usual pairing off stuff, but it’s Amale who became the early aggressor, throwing everyone into the crowd, as Toni Storm found herself in the third row with Valkyrie. There’s a lot of Brookesings from the French woman, who then focused on Valkyrie in the ring, culminating in a hip attack on Valkyrie for a near-fall. Amale used a figure four headscissors and drives Valkyrie’s head into the mat before Killer Kelly swapped places with Amale. Toni’s in too to headbutt Valkyrie for a near-fall, but she’s quickly ‘rana’d to off the top by the Irishwoman. Kelly rushed in with the Shibata-ish dropkick as the pace increased a little, but Amale breaks it all up.
Kelly crotches Valkyrie as she was climbing the top rope so she could pull her into a Dragon sleeper… Toni capitalises with the Shibataish dropkick to Kelly, who then got tied up in the corner by her own pigtails. That’s a smart, if not questionable move by Amale, who got sent outside as Toni tried to win with a belt shot… Kelly ducks it and lays out Toni with a death valley driver, only for Amale to run in and catch Kelly with the Champion Maker for the win. We’ve a new champion as Amale unseats Toni Storm, who’d held the belt for the majority of the last eighteen months – and hopefully that should give the women’s title a bit more prominent in the second half of the year. As for the match, it was your usual four-way – nice and aggressive at the start, and it’ll be interesting to see how Amale handles the role. ***
Backstage, Lucky Kid’s annoyed at his loss from earlier – Pete Bouncer asks him what he intends to do to Andy… who just so happens to walk in. Lucky challenges him for Hamburg, but Andy wants a stipulation: Lucky’s wXw title shot is on the line. Oh boy. “RISE accepts the challenge”, and I’ve got a horrible, horrible feeling about how this is going to play out for Lucky Kid. Visions of Chris Colen…
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Joey Janela vs. Bobby Gunns (c)
Set up with a tweet after Carat, and solidified at wXw’s New York show, we’ve got this main event between “Mr Spring Break” and the “King of Smoke Style”.
Both men light up at the bell, as I can’t help but think of Mitchell and Webb’s smoking snooker commentators as they do a wrestle. While they smoke. Gunns rips Janela’s cigarette from his mouth… so Joey does the same, as we get chants of “smoke forever”. It makes a change from the usual ones. Janela heads to ring announcer Thommy Giesen’s table to grab the title belt… which just makes Bobby grab it and lay him out with it. And there’s your DQ. Rico and Andy pretend to wrap it up… but Bobby calls the decision “trash” (using another word), and then asks to restart the match as a street fight. Well, isn’t that playing into Joey’s wheelhouse?!
Street Fight for wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Joey Janela vs. Bobby Gunns (c)
I’m popping straight away for the Owen Hart spot – Bobby kicking Joey’s leg out of his leg – as the proper match begins here.
A Dragon Screw hauls down Joey, who makes a comeback with a brutal backbreaker/Air Raid Crash on the side of the ring as he countered out of the hanging armbar. There’s a Brookesing next as Gunns was sent three rows deep, before Janela threw some chairs into the ring. He bats .500 with those things, missing a cannonball into a chair before dropping Gunns with a death valley driver onto one, before Gunns came back with a flying European uppercut for a near-fall… floating into a heel hook from the kick-out to force a rope break. Bobby ups the ante with tables, only to get dumped with an implant DDT by Janela. A powerbomb into a table led to a really uncharacteristic table break for Janela, but Gunns finds a second wind with a clothesline and a Ki Krusher through a chair for a near-fall. He grabs a second table, which Janela goes through courtesy of a release Northern Lights superplex, popping the wood off in the process!
Somehow Janela’s able to rebound with a spinning package piledriver, nearly winning the title in the process. The “Gunns, Bobby Gunns” chants finally spin up here, just as Gunns countered a powerbomb into the Swish armbar to force a verbal submission. Ignoring the first “match”, this was a pretty decent streetfight that didn’t stray too far from Gunns’ usual arsenal. Did anyone truly see Janela leaving as champion? Doubtful, this this was a solid match nevertheless. ***¼
While the prolonged groundswell underneath Bobby Gunns made it impossible for wXw to not give him the belt, it’s hard to deny there’s a slow murmur building up questioning his title reign thus far. With Absolute Andy having been dismissed as a challenger so quickly, Gunns has yet to have a defining title match yet – and with movements around the card perhaps threatening at Absolute Andy getting back into title contention, along withSShortcut to the Top, and Bobby’s future is about to pile up with challengers.
Elsewhere, for a show designed to bring in casual or lapsed fans, Superstars of Wrestling was a pretty good mix of wXw’s roster along with stars from the past and present. There’s enough of the current wXw product and stories on show without being overwhelming, which could mean that some may be tempted to skip it for just that reason, but this isn’t a complete wash-out – the formation of WALTER and Ilja Dragunov, once bitter rivals, is something that will pique a lot of people’s interests, as will the new direction of Lucky Kid. There’s just one wXw show left before their summer break, with next week’s Drive of Champions in Hamburg leading to a six week break ahead of wXw’s return for Shortcut to the Top in August. Just because you really, really don’t want to be in the Turbinenhalle in the middle of summer, so I hear…