wXw returned to Hamburg for their 20th show there for their latest stop on the We Love Wrestling tour… and my word, it was a huge show that lived up to expectations!

We started with a sit-down with Christian Jakobi recounting his memories from that first show, before we jumped to some big moments – such as Hot & Spicy winning the wXw tag titles there, the Dieter/Mack feud, and the intergender street fight and many more.

Daan Jokisch and Sebastian Hollmichel are on the German call, right by a bar tap… which might be useful if the show doesn’t go well! Then again, given the travel nightmare some of the crew had getting to the venue, it may be hit the second the final bell rings!

wXw Shotgun Championship: Bobby Gunns (c) vs. Lucky Kid
This is a rematch from Shotgun last week, where Lucky Kid’s compassion cost him the match… Bobby’s going old school with his shirt as the hard camera vibrates to the beat of Robot Rock. Coming out in Werder Bremen socks (which is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, taunting Hamburg fans after their relegation – trust me, I more than know the feeling!) Bobby cuts a promo, which I’m going to need to see with the English subtitles… the one thing we didn’t need to translate is this:

It’s his own version of the Honk-a-Meter – bragging about how long Bobby Gunns has been unbeaten in Hamburg for. Or, for those not looking for tie-ins to wrestling, a direct shot at the Hamburg Sport Verein football team, as they’d had a clock in their stadium boasting how long they’d been in the 1. Bundesliga… a stay that came to an end weeks ago. Again, relegation is something is I have a LOT of experience with…

Anyway, could the run come to an end against Lucky Kid? Perhaps not if Lucky needs to be held back from the belt for his own good… Lucky’s all about the mind games early on, and gets easily distracted by the fans chanting for him as we had a pretty split crowd. Gunns went for a single leg crab, only for Lucky to pull himself towards the ropes as Gunns was forced to go again, but by the time he got a hold on, Lucky was again too close to the ropes as Tarkan Aslan was on hand to offer more encouragement.

Another rope break followed from a tie-up, but Gunns refuses to break cleanly… leading to Lucky hugging the leg, as the champion was left feeling rather bemused… and tripped, as Lucky spreads his legs and shoves him down. After that, Lucky enjoyed a flurry of offence, but Gunns powders to the outside as the crowd built up to it… but Bobby Gunns didn’t join him to go “BLEH!”, he joined him to grab an armbar instead!

Second time was the charm… sort-of, as Gunns cuts off a handspring and drags Lucky onto the apron, before the challenger dragged him into the ringpost with a Downward Spiral. Lucky breaks the count and throws Gunns back into the ring, only for his latest flurry of offence to end with an arm whip. From there, Gunns started to work on the arm as the crowd remained remarkably split, all while Tarkan Aslan refused to allow the referee to even consider waving the match off.

Just as well really, as Lucky mounted a comeback, blasting into Gunns with forearms, before a single European uppercut in the corner brought him down hard. Bobby goes up top, but he leaps into a dropkick from Lucky Kid… but Lucky can’t quite capitalise, missing a handspring elbow before finally landing an Asai DDT! Aslan’s damn near begging him to make a cover, but Bobby rolls to the outside instead, before he got caught between the ropes as Lucky flew with a double stomp to the doubled-over Gunns for a near-fall.

Lucky keeps trying for a Dragon suplex, but Gunns fights off and eventually lands a German suplex before a lariat’s missed… but instead he just switches it into a slam as Lucky almost took the fall. Gunns tries to follow up with some mounted punches, but Lucky slips out… only to get caught in an armbar as Bobby countered his foe’s counter once again, only for a short powerbomb to break it up.

Some clubbering forearms from Lucky led to a sit-out powerbomb, but Gunns kicked out at two, before he went to Kid’s arm with a finger snap, ahead of the Swish armbar… which prompted Tarkan Aslan to throw in the Shotgun title belt to distract the referee as he dragged Lucky Kid’s foot to the rope. Gunns was incensed by that… but Lucky Kid takes advantage with a missile dropkick, folding up Bobby for a near-fall, before his latest handspring elbow attempt was caught. Another Swish armbar drew Tarkan Aslan into the ring, and the attack on Gunns led to the obvious DQ. A good match until the finish – which parts of the crowd hated – but it’ll play into the longer term story between the former tag champs. ***½

Post-match, Lucky Kid pushed away Aslan as they headed to the back – all while Bobby celebrated another successful defence… and the continuation of his winning streak.

LuFisto vs. Killer Kelly
Recently cleared of having cancer (massive congratulations for that piece of good news), LuFisto was on her first trip to Europe in over four years, and her first trip to Germany in almost nine.

She jumped Killer Kelly at the bell, taking her from corner to corner with headbutts as the Hamburg crowd got on the Canadian’s back… but Kelly’s quickly responding with a pump kick and some ground and pound, forcing the current SHINE champion into the ropes. LuFisto shoves away a German suplex attempt and shoved Kelly into the bottom rope for a low dropkick, as she was all over the first wXw women’s champion here.

Kelly’s stretched in the ropes for the benefit of the fans standing by ringside, before a running kick left the Portuguese native rocked. More shots follow as she was sat on the apron, but that’s the cue for a fightback as Kelly teed up the Cristiano PK, only to be met with a leg sweep as LuFisto took it back inside for a near-fall. A rear chinlock slows the pace down, but Kelly escapes and lands an enziguiri to get back into it.

A cravat and some knees rock LuFisto and sent her into the corner as the Shibata-ish dropkick followed… but the Shades of Shibata only gets a near-fall as Kelly built up to a German suplex, only for LuFisto to escape and hit one of her own. Kelly’s right back up with Germans of her own, but the head kick’s ducked as LuFisto hits a spinning backfist before the Burning Hammer put away Kelly for the win. I was shocked this was barely over five minutes long – but with all the intensity they brought, this felt way longer. Good stuff here, even in defeat. ***

Julian Pace vs. David Starr
Having been off of the feature shows since 16 Carat Gold weekend, this was a huge chance for Julian Pace, as he went up against the Carat runner-up.

Pace was far from impressed at Starr playing to the crowd, as he made the top rope his own comfortable place, before getting pulled into a chicken wing-esque roll-up by Starr, who looked to make light work of the newcomer. However, Starr was bamboozled by Pace’s rope running, as he went Vollgas en route to a dropkick!

Pretty Pumped gets Starr back on track, but Pace kicked out at two, before getting dumped with a German suplex as Starr continued to wear him down. A low dropkick gets another near-fall as things were looking dangerously squash-like, just as the crowd started to chant for Pace.

A nice back elbow rocked Starr as he tried to hold Pace back… and that’s the start of the comeback as a neckbreaker puts the Product down. An overhead kick in the ropes and more trickery led to Pace going Vollgas… but he’s tripped up before he looked to hit Code Red, only to get waffled with Han Stansen.

Pace is right back with a satellite DDT, then with Code Red, but Starr’s able to kick out at two, then again after a moonsault press as an enziguiri knocked him into the ropes. Just like that, Starr dumps Pace with a Blackheart Buster, then the Han Stansen lariat, and that is that. An extended squash, but Pace really managed to get the crowd into it, which is quite the thing given how little experience he’s had in front of these “big show” wXw crowds. **¾

Post-match, Starr hung around for Pace to get back up, before they shook hands.

Dirty Dragan Trial Series: Dirty Dragan vs. Veit Müller
With wins over Francis Kaspin and Joey Mercury in his series, Dragan was perhaps a little too cocksure here, vaping on his way to the ring and bedecked in some gear that I’m pretty sure weren’t gifts from Emil Sitoci.

Before the match, Dragan compared himself to a diamond, as that’s what happens when you put dirt under pressure. Diamond Dragan, eh? I smell the yoga DVDs…

Anyway, Veit Müller was his opponent today, something of a gimme after his prior wins… but it’s always these matches that are the banana skins. Dragan started out well, trying to out-grapple Müller, but Veit had some fight while Dragan was overly arrogant, playing to the crowd after every little victory.

Dragan snapped Veit’s singlet back on himself, and that just prompted a fightback from him, as he slammed Dragan, then whipped him into the corner and out for a back body drop. A Jim Breaks-like arm lift followed as Dragan was really struggling to get into any kind of gear, not being helped when Müller grabbed a nerve hold. An escape from Dragan finally saw him land a Diamond clothesline, but he charges into a bearhug as Veit was waiting for him again.

A bell clapper gets Dragan free, before he kicked away a telegraphed back body drop and goes for a sunset flip… but Veit sits down on it, and the Bulldog/Bret SummerSlam 92 finish gets the upset! Yep, Veit was the banana skin, and now a desolate Dirty Dragan feels like he’s back at square one as he argued in disbelief with the referee… then again with Veit, who dumped him with a cravat suplex afterwards for good measure. **½

I enjoyed this in terms of the Dragan story – those two wins led him to get a little big for his britches, and after a bit of a meltdown in the ring, where he stomped on his sunglasses, now he’s off to rebuild himself, as I’m sure Emil Sitoci will have a word on Shotgun in the coming weeks.

They replay clips from Superstars of Wrestling where Jay FK invaded the tag title match and stole the belts, before passing to a video from Monster Consulting, who weren’t in Hamburg today. Nero and Avalanche remind us that regardless of who holds the belts, the tag team match here will be for a shot at their tag titles.

Jay FK (Francis Kaspin & Jay Skillet) vs. RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer)
Check out the new attitude on Jay FK – gone are the wholesome boys we once knew.

They gave the tag titles – and some money – to an unidentified guy who came from the crowd, as being “fresher than you” apparently involves tossing your ring jackets at Tassilo Jung. He’s not gonna take that, you know…

The bell rings, but Jay FK run to the ropes to avoid Pete Bouncer… which is the normal approach when someone with his abs comes snarling towards you. We’ve a lot of stalling before we get to Ivan Kiev and Jay Skillet, but again, they’re Yano’ing it up by going between the ropes to avoid any kind of contact. Finally, Kiev locks up as they roll into the ropes, and these tactics – along with Jay Skillet’s whininess – is getting the crowd on Jay FK’s backs.

Kiev quickly takes Skillet into the corner for a splash and a diving boot, before a crossbody gets Kiev a near-fall – and forces Skillet to beg off into the ropes again. Francis Kaspin grabs Skillet in the ropes to save him, and while that doesn’t count as a tag, it cuts off the momentum for long enough for Jay Skillet to get back into it, stomping on Kiev as Kaspin finally gets the tag in. Kaspin’s PK gets a near-fall as Jay FK started to look comfortable against Kiev, who was cornered with little hope of any reprieve, especially when Pete Bouncer was easily getting dragged into the ring every time Kaspin and Skillet tried to get under his skin.

It’s basic “bad guy work”, but it was so effective here as the crowd still couldn’t believe the way Jay FK had turned.

Kiev’s again cornered as Kaspin and Skillet exchange tags, but after slipping out of a Fisherman’s suplex, Ivan’s able to land a Pele kick and make the hot tag to Pete Bouncer! Pete clears house with clotheslines and a delayed bodyslam to Kaspin, before tossing Skillet to the outside… a scooping reverse DDT gets a near-fall for Bouncer, but things turn around quickly with a back cracker from Kaspin, before Bouncer hits a rope-hung neckbreaker as a tag out to Kiev followed.

Ivan flies with a leg lariat off the top, but somehow Kaspin kicked out at two, as he ate more attacks ahead of a full nelson slam from Kiev, with Skillet barely breaking up the cover. Kiev and Bouncer get thrown outside, but Jay Skillet grabs the tag titles back from That Guy, distracting the referee with one, before Kaspin clocked Bouncer on the back of the head with the other to score the pin. The hatred for Jay FK here was loud – and a sign that what they’re doing, however basic, is working. Their next stop is against the rightful champions, and you’ve got to think that they’ll do whatever it takes to keep hold of the belts – regardless of the result. ***¼

wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship: Alexander James vs. Ilja Dragunov (c)
This was set up at the Frankfurt show, where James was meant to have had Ilja as a surprise opponent… but injury meant that it was delayed, with some trash talking from the Prince of Pro making this a little more heated than it perhaps would have been otherwise.

Dragunov flew into James at the bell, taking him into the corners for some right hands… but James wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet here either, firing back in kind before Ilja started to throw those chops. A dropkick and a back senton sent James to the outside, where the American avoided a dive from Ilja, instead suckering him outside for a cheapshot, before another dropkick left him on the floor.

Again, Ilja goes for a dive, but James throws him to the outside… with Dragunov catching his head nastily on the middle rope as he slid to the outside. That looked rough to say the least, and that’s before you even consider Ilja’s history of head and neck injuries. He beat the count, but instantly walked into some stomps to the neck from James, as the crowd stood up in support of their champion.

A brief fightback from Dragunov’s snuffed out when James hit a neckbreaker, before pulling him into a variation of the Axel Dieter Special – like half of that with a chinlock – which James broke up the second Ilja rolled back into a pinning attempt. After composing himself, James tried to charge into Ilja in the corner, but Dragunov gets a foot up… before causing himself more neck pain as he ran back to start another charge in the corner. He shrugs that off and heads up top, but James sweeps the leg as Ilja has more neck trauma, followed up by a slingshot Blockbuster as the match looked elementary at this point.

The crowd again rose for Ilja, but James was more than willing to go for his neck with elbows, although finally Dragunov scored with a back suplex as the crowd sensed a turnaround… only for a Torpedo Moscau to get caught and countered into a Dragon sleeper. Ilja escapes it by rolling back, but James countered back out of it and hauled Dragunov into the ropes for the Rains of Castamere (Tower of London) for a near-fall.

Alexander mocked Ilja’s “unbesiegbar” catchphrase, but that just riled up the champion, who counters the King’s Landing into the Cherno-bomb – a pumphandle Blue Thunder Bomb – before a crucifix sent James rolling to the outside for a huge tope suicida! James rolled into the corner as Dragunov prepared a dropkick, but that was no small matter as Ilja just turned it into a Coast to Coast instead, before going back to those chops, only to get dumped with a Regalplex from James.

A vicious back elbow followed to the back of the head, followed by a ripcord variant, but Ilja still had enough left in him to deck James with the Grüß from Moscau lariat. Waiting for James to get back to his feet, Dragunov rushes in with a Torpedo Moscau… and that’s all folks! Despite everything James threw at him, Ilja held firm – and managed to retain the belt. It wasn’t comfortable viewing, especially THAT recoil in the ropes, but that’s the style we’ve grown accustomed to with Ilja, I guess. As for James… in spite of his big story with Jurn Simmons having been derailed on this tour, he’s continued to grow in the ring, moving away from the “arm matches” that we’d become used to as he built up to the Coat of Arms. ***¾

No Holds Barred: Marius al-Ani vs. Absolute Andy
The latest round of the Andy/al-Ani feud rolled into Hamburg here, except Marius had another trick up his sleeth – he turned it into a No Holds Barred match before we got going… and leapt into Andy at the bell with a huge plancha as he came down to the ring. That’ll go in the highlight packages!

They headed into the ring from there, but Andy’s right on top with a hanging suplex before teasing the A-Klasse early on… but Marius escaped, before getting sent to the apron as his slingshot into a sunset flip almost earned him a F5, which he countered in turn with a death valley driver. Breathless stuff! Marius aborts a frog splash in mid-air as Andy rolled outside, and of course Marius followed as they brawled towards the entrance way.

On the stage, Andy waffles Marius with a big boot, before al-Ani returned with a swift chairshot that took out Andy… and the seat as well! Heading back to the ring, the Hamburg crowd demanded tables, so they just brawled back into the crowd as we got a wider view of the Markthalle than usual. There’s another chair by the production area, which al-Ani gets hold of… and uses with great pleasure.

Back inside, a superkick from Andy saw Marius have the chair turned on himself, before some back-and-forth ends with an eye rake as Andy tried to regain the upper hand. Marius swings to the outside and slingshots back in for his sunset flip/Exploder combo, following up with a ‘rana before heading up top for the frog splash… but Andy kips up and instead takes another death valley driver as Marius almost won it.

From the kick-out, Marius switches to an ankle lock, before trying his luck with a chair… Andy ducks that and hits a spinebuster, only for Marius to roll back through and into an ankle lock. Eventually Andy uses the chair to get free, following up with a lariat for good measure as he teases a superkick… which decks Marius for a near-fall. More chairshots from Andy leave Marius down and out on the mat, giving Andy enough time to grab a table.

A low kick looks set to get Marius ready for a world of hurt… and it’s a lot more than expected as the A-Klasse sees him bounce off the table rather than go through it! Rather than try again though, that’s the finish, as Marius bouncing off the indestructible table was enough to put him away – a bit of a flat finish, but it’s nice to not have them go through the trope of “let’s… keep… trying… to… break… the… table” that would have gotten them on Botchamania for sure! As a match, these no holds barred affairs can be limiting, but this was fun and fairly brief, so extra points for not dragging it out! ***½

wXw Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Toni Storm (c)
When Toni debuted in wXw three years ago, she lost in under five minutes to Kay Lee Ray… today, she’d be going in as champion, hoping for a rather different result.

We started with the pair trading hammerlocks as Storm eventually took Ray down to the mat, before having the favour returned as Toni headstands up and out of a headlock on the mat. After shaking her hand, Kay Lee drops Storm with a forearm, before we gave way to some indy’riffic pinning attempts that confused new referee Kevin Eriksen, especially as they just kept going with back-and-forth sunset flips out of the Gory Bomb attempt.

From the restart, Ray suckered Storm with a hook kick… but Toni’s right back in with a superkick for a near-fall. Kay Lee trips Storm onto the mat and scores with a 619-like kick on the apron as she turned the match around, before grounding Toni with a guillotine. Somehow, Storm got out and looked to get a suplex, but Kay Lee countered the counter into a small package before booting the champion into the corner.

Some chops followed in the corner, but Toni starts to headbutt hem away… and has to fight out of a Gory Bomb as the pair flowed effortlessly between attack and defence, leading to a spiking DDT from the champion. A superkick from Kay Lee misses, earning her a German suplex and some hip attacks in the corner… but she recovers to catch Toni up top as she looked to bring her down with a Gory bomb.

Instead, Storm’s pulled down into a Koji clutch… she escapes and managed to return fire with a bridging armbar as that alternative New Orleans finisher came into use, before teasing the Strong Zero. We’re back and forth between that and Gory Bomb teases, but Kay Lee lands her finisher for a near-fall, before getting caught up top as Toni tries to bring her down with a Muscle buster.

Ray escaped, but gets pulled into a German suplex as she tries a springboard off the middle rope, leaving her prey for a Strong Zero as Storm took home the win. A decent title match, but with Kay Lee Ray not exactly a regular in wXw (aside from a corporate event last November, this was the Scot’s first appearance in nearly two years), there was little chance of a title change here. ***½

They replay the video package from Shotgun to hype up the main event – going full circle!

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. WALTER
As you’d expect, the Markthalle was hot for this one!

After spotting some out-of-place turnbuckles, WALTER tried to lift up Sabre in the early going, but they’re too close to the ropes as Hamburg sang for Sabre, who wasn’t allowing WALTER’s early offence to even put him down for a one-count. A Test of Strength perhaps wasn’t the smartest move, as WALTER put Zack down to his knees, before a neck bridge was smashed… then rebuilt with WALTER on top as Hamburg witnessed the strength of this year’s Super Strong Style 16 winner.

Guess what comes next? CHOP!

A slam keeps Sabre on the mat, but he’s right back in with uppercuts before WALTER runs through a kick and charges down the Brit with a shoulder tackle. Hamburg liked that bit of bulldozery! WALTER keeps up with a Boston crab, but Sabre’s able to make it to the ropes, and to the outside, where they exchange chops that rang out throughout the entire Markthalle. Yeah, when a chop prompts chants of “please don’t die”, you know it was vile!

After getting bored with chops, WALTER press slammed Zack back into the ring, between the ropes, only to get caught with kicks and a Dragon screw as Sabre decided to keep the big Austrian on the floor. More kicks from Sabre saw him pick apart at WALTER’s right calf and thigh, as we found out that Zack had longer legs than WALTER had arms, as kicks fended off chops.

Nasty submissions followed as WALTER was bent in half with a single leg crab right by the ropes, prompting a chop-heavy comeback… except Zack catches one and puts WALTER down for a stomp to the arm. Still, it didn’t put WALTER off as he throws more of those chops, sending Zack into the corner before more Sabre kicked WALTER’s leg out of his leg, putting the big guy down again.

More thunderous chops seemed to be the answer as Zack was left laying, before the two scrambled on the mat for a submission attempt as they figured that they couldn’t keep throwing forever. WALTER had to stop short of throwing a chop, but was able to throw one in desperation to escape a knee bar from Sabre, who just went straight back in with kicks to the leg as the crowd rose to their feet, singing “stand up, if you love wrestling” (in German, obviously).

Those kicks to the thigh put WALTER back on the mat… and when the Austrian again hesitated with a chop, Sabre’s right back in with kicks, only to be sent flying into the corner with a shotgun dropkick! A powerbomb follows, but Sabre counters into a guillotine, only for that to get countered into a butterfly suplex as WALTER broke free. Yet more chops followed as both men continued down their well-worn paths, but Sabre switches it up with a Dragon screw and a PK, before getting caught in a Gojira clutch.

Somehow, Sabre escapes it and takes down WALTER, before rolling him into a Euro Clutch, despite WALTER’s best attempts to block it, as we get another near-fall. A series of PKs waffle WALTER for a near-fall, but WALTER’s still got plenty left in the tank as he sent Sabre careering into the ropes with a RINGKAMPF German suplex before nearly winning the contest with a folding powerbomb… only to get caught with an Octopus hold that Sabre rolled through into a knee bar as the holds kept coming… and surprisingly the kicks to the leg took their toll as WALTER tapped to the knee bar! A vicious, hard-hitting main event, which I’d say was a hair above their initial match in this venue six years ago… WALTER and Sabre at their best is a sight to behold, and they did NOT disappoint here. ****¾

After the match, Sabre took the mic and promised the crowd that he’d be back in August – and he’s taking a title shot, whether that’s against “Comrade Dragunov” or “Awesome Andrew”. Well… that’s certainly a statement of intent, and given that we’ve only ever had Sabre/Dragunov once before in a singles match (in October 2005 during World Tag Team League), that could well be the tantalising match they deliver us on that PROGRESS x wXw weekender… especially since the PROGRESS fans in town won’t be too familiar with Absolute Andy (nor would they need to be, since it’s Ilja coming over for their big show at Wembley in September).

The show closes with a preview of this week’s Shotgun, featuring Christian Jakobi berating Jay FK for stealing the tag belts, Sabre and WALTER being all friendly after their war… and whatever else is on tap!

As ever, wXw’s latest stop in Hamburg was an excellent outing. While perhaps not wall-to-wall with matches that would draw the proverbial snowflakes, the promotion’s hallmark of solid wrestling and great storytelling was on show again. From Dragan getting overly cocky and losing… to Bobby Gunns finding another way to antagonise Hamburg… to Tarkan Aslan costing Lucky Kid his Shotgun title match… to Sabre outclassing der Ringgeneral and claiming a title shot. Everything here is happening for a reason, with no yawning logic gaps or anything else that could irritate those who love their stories.

We’re over in Hamburg for their show in November – and if it’s anything like this one, it’s going to be a sleeper hit!