The quest to crown a new set of wXw world tag team champions began as the World Tag Team Festival kicked off!

After so-many-changes, wXw’s autumn festival began at the Turbinenhalle – a knee injury to Mark Davis meant that Aussie Open were stripped of the belts going into the tournament, so in steps Lucky Kid as ¿Schadenfreude? looked to pick up where Aussie Open couldn’t go. On top of that, a late withdrawal from Eddie Kingston meant that David Starr couldn’t bring WRSTLING to the Turbinenhalle, with his new partner to be decided on the night….

We had a brief pre-show with Karsten Beck (finally getting music and video), which was interrupted by Amale, who was complaining about not being on the card. Faye Jackson appears, as did Levaniel, until Mike Schwarz appeared to run them off, which sets up an intergender tag for later tonight.

We open with a video package tying the area’s coal mining heritage into tag team wrestling, before the obligatory parade of entrants… with good reactions for all, as the Schadenfreude team lingered behind afterwards.

World Tag Team Festival – First Round: Jay-AA (Jay Skillet & Absolute Andy) vs. Pretty Bastards (Maggot & Prince Ahura)
So the Pretty Bastards lucked their way in after an injury to Julian Pace meant that the Vollgasteren team couldn’t make it. Funny how that works out for them, eh?

There’s loud duelling chants for both teams before the bell, as Ahura’s actually wearing something longer than hot pants for a change! Andy and Ahura fight over a bottle of Fanta, before Andy went to work, hurling Ahura hard into the corner so hard he bounced right off the buckles. In comes Skillet and Maggot, as we get the obligatory Schürlle chants, which Skillet shrugged off as we ended up with Ahura getting stomped on in the corner.

Maggot got free and made a comeback, taking down Skillet with an enziguiri before Andy responded with a big spinebuster. Ahura’s back to clear house, stopping to take off his trousers for some shiny, smaller trunks before Andy just knocked him down. Fair enough!

Skillet got spiked on a 3D from the Bastards after he tried to ape the “Absolute” “Andy” call and refrain, but he’s back up to toss Ahura outside ahead of a superkick as the barefooted one tried to springboard back in. Some double-teaming from the Bastards backfires as Andy ended up catching Maggot with a superkick and stomp-assisted A5 for a near-fall, and Jay-AA were made to pay for that moments later when Jay Skillet ran into a small package… and that’s the Pretty Bastards through to the semi-finals tomorrow! A decent opener, with an unexpected result. ***¼

World Tag Team Festival – First Round: Purge Club (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. ¿Schadenfreude? (Kyle Fletcher & Lucky Kid)
RISE died in Hamburg at FAN, so this was the first official outing of the Purge Club… and Lucky Kid was in no mood to hang around, rushing the ring before the bell.

We finally got going with Lucky Kid pounding away on Ivan Kiev, before Kyle Fletcher tagged in and chopped Kiev in tune to the “Aussie Aussie Aussie” chants… Lucky and Kyle combine for low dropkicks on Kiev, but Pete Bouncer manages to come in as the Purge Club hit a Combinacion Cabron-like dropkick to the back of Fletcher.

Kyle suplexes Bouncer to get his way back in, before Lucky tagged in to get him some. A handspring double back elbow takes down the Purge Club, as does an Asai DDT/accidental DDT combo for a near-fall. Fletcher’s running double knees to Kiev in the corner are good for a near-fall, before tags get us to Lucky and Bouncer.

Lucky peppers Bouncer with strikes, before he took him outside for a tope con giro… but back in the ring the momentum swung, with Lucky almost losing to a stomp-assisted reverse DDT. Fletcher made the save and hit a powerbomb for a near-fall, before they borrowed a page out of Chris Brookes’ CCK playbook with an elevated lungblower and some sick effing tag moves.

Ivan Kiev comes in threatening to use his baseball bat, which distracts the ref as Kyle ate a nightstick shot… and moments later after Lucky Kid a fall, Kyle ate a superkick and Pete Bouncer’s Self Justice DDT as Schadenfreude go out in the first round. This didn’t feel like a blow-off, and nor should it, as there’s much more mileage in the tank between Schadenfreude and the Purge Club. **¾

Flamita vs. Jonathan Gresham
This one could get real tasty…

Flamita switches holds with Gresham early, before he looked for a takedown and went to increase the pace with some handsprings and a ‘rana as an early dive took Flamita into Gresham on the outside. And into the front row too!

They trade blows around ringside, before Flamita took down Gresham with a Fujiwara armbar back inside. After Gresham got free, a handspring elbow took him back down, following that up with a neat step-up ‘rana. Gresham turns it around in a heartbeat, dropping Flamita in the search for an armbar, which Flamita escaped.

They end up on the stage, where Flamita eats a DDT before he got frogmarched back to the ring, where a chop battle ended with Flamita landing a superkick on Gresham. An aborted 450 led to Gresham going back to work on the arm, which led to some buttery-smooth transitions as Gresham almost won with a crucifix.

Flamita manages to land a 450 off the top after a series that almost went awry, but Gresham brought it back on track with some superb, too-quick-to-type exchanges that he got a couple of near-falls on, before he locked on an Octopus and hammered Flamita with some Danielson elbows for the submission. Some real good stuff here, with some superb exchanges that almost needed to be seen to be believed! ***½

Some loud chants of “16 Carat” greeted Gresham and Flamita. I hope we get some names this weekend…

VT shows Avalanche on the hunt for someone, as he comes across Alexander Dean. Avalanche is annoyed with Dean for wanting a title shot on his first day in, but agrees to the shot tomorrow.

World Tag Team Festival – First Round: Work Horsemen (J D Drake & Anthony Henry) vs. Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Los Federales Santos Jr.)
Fun fact, the Work Horsemen use the same music here that Scotty Davis got in PROGRESS… while the Anti-Fun Police’s music sounds like it’d be at home in a 70s adult flick…

There’s new gear for the Rozzers, and we start with a good ol’ hoss fight! Big lad lucha is fun, before we got some comedy with the No Fun Gun. Henry comes in to kick it away, before taking Dunne outside for Drake to chop him. Chops from Drake gave way to kicks from Henry, as some double-teaming from the Work Horsemen had them ahead.

Drake set up for a Vader Bomb, and landed it on Dunne for a near-fall. Dunne eventually fought back with a spear, before Santos came in to splash everyone silly in the corners. More hoss fights end with a leaping splash from Santos to Drake, before a turnaround and back led to the Anti-Fun Police almost winning with their version of the New Day’s Midnight Hour.

In the end, Drake lariats Santos to his doom, before countering Dunne’s springboard lungblower into a cutter… insanity prevails, as did a Drill Bit on Dunne, but still the Anti-Fun Police lived on… until Henry’s stomp off the top and a moonsault from Drake got the former EVOLVE tag champs the win. So far so good, with some nice exchanges, particularly between the big lads, but I have a sense that the Work Horsemen will be going far… ***

World Tag Team Festival – First Round: The Crown (Alexander James & Jurn Simmons) vs. David Starr & Norman Harras
Harras gets to follow up his star-making performance last night at Inner Circle with his latest shot as he replaced Eddie Kingston at the 11th hour.

The Crown jumped the makeshift team as David Starr was trying to make head nor tail of some chants, but it was the Crown who dominated early, with Jurn tossing Harras across the ring before stopping to take exception to some crowd chants. Ah, it’s been a while since I’ve heard chants in time to John Cena’s music… Alexander James stretches Harras, before rushing the ring to knock Starr off the apron as the game the Crown were playing was painfully obvious.

Painful to Norman, at least.

Harras fought back with forearms, before clubbing James with a lariat, but this time it’s Jurn who knocked Starr off the apron. After a German suplex, Harras finally got the hot tag to Starr, who cleared house despite the Crown’s bid to double-team him, before tagging Harras back in.

A jackhammer from Harras almost put away James, before James’ gutwrench powerbomb sparked a series of moves. Jurn pops up Starr into an uppercut from James, before Harras’ lariat ensured all four men were left laying. Starr and Harras clock the Crown with clotheslines in the corners, but Jurn’s right back in to stop their momentum. A double clothesline from Starr sent the Crown outside but a trio of topes ended with him getting powerbombed on the apron by Jurn.

Back in the ring, Jurn drills through Harras with a spear, before an awkward electric chair/DDT combo nearly put the youngster away. A curb stomp allowed Harras to show similar resilience, but a second try proved to be too much as Starr pulled out Jurn, allowing Harras to shock James with a roll-up for the win! An enjoyable upset, with Harras showing a lot of the spirit he did at the Inner Circle… there’s a lot of growing to do, but Norman’ll be a star. ***

After the match, the Crown teased dissension… then exploded when Alexander James clocked Jurn in the back of the head with a clothesline. A curb stomp puts Jurn away, and the Crown is no more.

Faye Jackson & Mike Schwarz vs. Amale & Levaniel
Some mixed tag team action eases us into the second half. Amale backs off of Faye so much at the start that she tags out, giving us Mike Schwarz and Levaniel instead.

Levaniel thought he’d snuck out of a slam, but instead just got clobbered by Schwarz in the corner ahead of a sidewalk slam for an early two-count. A thumb to the eye from Levaniel frees him from a chokeslam, as tags bring us back to Faye and Amale, with Jackson hitting Amale “auf die Fresse”. Mikey’s taught her then…

Levaniel distracts, allowing Amale to attack Faye from behind, building up to a diving splash for a near-fall on Jackson. A drop toe hold takes Faye to the corner, as a diving boot in the corner led to another near-fall. Faye used a jawbreaker to get out of a mounted sleeper, as a tag brought Schwarz and Levaniel back in.

Levaniel tries to dive on Schwarz on the outside, but he’s caught and dumped on the apron. Time passes as Levaniel returned to the ring to hit Faye, but that’s no DQ as Faye hit back harder before Schwarz finished him off with a chokeslam. This didn’t seem to land particularly well with the crowd, but it built up the women’s title match at Femmes Fatales, so there’s that. **

VT from the Arrows of Hungary reintroduce them to wXw as a replacement team. They take umbridge at that, and promise to take this chance in wXw. That bleeds in nicely to their entrance…

World Tag Team Festival – First Round: Arrows of Hungary (Icarus & Dover) vs. Violence is Forever (Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku)
This was the Arrows’ first match in wXw since they lost the “winner gets a contract” match to the Pretty Bastards back at the Road to New York City event…

Icarus and Garrini start us off, as the Ogden Section serenaded us with “the Arrows of Hungary” to the tune of Que Sera Sera. Tags bring in Ku and Dover, with the pair slugging it out a bit before Dover hit a uranage into Icarus’ knees, putting Ku down for a near-fall. Garrini’s in to throw Icarus around with a gutwrench suplex, before all four men ended up outside.

Back inside, Garrini edges ahead before some kicks from Ku woke Icarus up. A snap Dragon suplex from Ku, then a deadlift German from Garrini nearly put Icarus away, as tag got us back to Dover and Ku. Garrini tries to come in, but he’s charged into the corner for a gamengiri, while the Arrows stack up the Americans in the corner for an assisted cannonball for a near-fall.

The Arrows look for Crossfire, but Garrini makes the save as Ku proceeded to dump Icarus with what looked like a gutwrench backcracker. All four men slug it out like a hockey fight next, with some added boots as Garrini looked to pull ahead, only to get caught with a double-team hiptoss facebuster. A back body drop on Garrini backfired as he caught Icarus in a rear naked choke on the mat, but Dover broke it up by suplexing Ku onto the pile.

We’re back on the outside as Ku and Dover brawled into the crowd, while Garrini and Icarus went up onto the balcony. I have nightmares back to tag league from last year… and it ends with Icarus doing a dive off the balcony onto Ku, as the Arrows take home the win! A nice, wild brawl with a hell of a high spot to end on! ***¼

Chris Ridgeway and Mike Bailey were announced for 16 Carat Gold next year…

World Tag Team Festival – First Round: Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. Veit Müller & Timothy Thatcher
We’ve got respectful handshakes from the start as Müller and Burch get us going.

Burch takes Müller into the ropes with a hammerlock, as Thatcher guided Veit on from the apron, before tags got us to Oney Lorcan and Timothy Thatcher. Ambition preview, here we go! Lorcan took Thatcher into the corner for a clean break, before using a standing surfboard stretch to try and wear down Thatcher.

Thatcher manages to reverse it, but Lorcan pushes free before Danny Burch tagged into the match, but he’s instantly caught in a single leg crab before there was some argie bargie with the pair shoving each other. A slam and an elbow drop gets Thatcher a two-count, before tags got us to Lorcan and Müller, with Veit suddenly finding himself on the receiving end of things.

A double-team suplex drops Veit for a two-count, as the WWE pairing continued to wear through the Hamburg native, but Thatcher’s right back in with some belly-to-belly suplexes to turn things right back around for sorta-RINGKAMPF. Lorcan and Burch are right back in it with duelling submissions, as Oney tried to make Tim tap to a single-leg crab, before all four ended up facing each other down for a nice little slugfest.

A parade of strikes follows, ending with a butterfly suplex from Thatcher for a near-fall, before Tim trapped Lorcan in a rear naked choke. Danny Burch met a similar fate, only for Lorcan to fall back and roll into a pinning attempt that nearly ended the match. Müller and Thatcher worked a nice pop-up uppercut for a near-fall, only for Oney to fire back with a barrage of chops and a running Destroyer on Thatcher and Müller.

Lorcan keeps up with a missile dropkick on Müller, before Burch came in to help land an assisted DDT on Müller… and just like that, Veit and Timothy are out! A good little main event, with a lot of big lads knocking lumps out of each other as Timothy Thatcher is now free to focus on the wXw Universal World Wrestling title tomorrow instead… ***½

After the match, Danny Burch took the mic and put over Müller and Thatcher in a rare chance he got to swear these days. Veit got an approving handshake from Burch, while Thatcher quelled the crowd so he could tell the WWE lads to “win the tournament”. What happens next with Veit and Thatcher could be rather defining, I feel, especially after going out in the first round…

A solid, if not spectacular start to the tag team festival, with some interesting picks going into the second round. Icarus’ dive off the balcony will be the moment most remember, but don’t sleep on that Gresham/Flamita match… nor the fall-out from the Crown’s explosion, which will surely play out in the remainder of the weekend.