Icarus and Dover go to war in a bloody main event as the Arrows of Hungary exploded in Oberhausen.
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight pinned Nikita Charisma & Michael Schenkenberg to retain the wXw World Tag Team Championships in 10:37 (***¼)
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe submitted 1 Called Manders & Mance Wander in 12:47 (***¾)
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Hektor Invictus & Dennis Dullnig pinned Psycho Mike & Maggot in 17:13 (***¼)
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Shigehiro Irie & Mizuki Watase pinned Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto in 16:39 (***¾)
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Laurance Roman & Robert Dreissker pinned Latigo & Arez in 10:36 (***¼)
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Levaniel & Jurn Simmons pinned Aaron Rourke & Ava Everett in 13:44 (**½)
No Holds Barred: Icarus pinned Dover in 19:10 (****¼)
— If you want to catch this before it’s uploaded to Peacock/WWE Network, head over to wXwNOW.de
We’re in the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen for the start of the World Tag Team Festival tournament – this year we’re looking at a single-elimination tournament with 12 teams, as opposed to the round robin league format of years gone by. English commentary comes from Dave Prazak and Robin Christopher Fohrwerk.
For some reason we’re not doing the parade of entrants this year, as we’re straight into the matches…
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round for wXw World Tag Team Championship: Only Friends (Bobby Gunns & Michael Knight) (c) vs. Rott Und Flott (Michael Schenkenberg & Nikita Charisma)
The change to the tournament’s format means that the tag team champions are defending their titles in every round – rather than the belts just being vacated if the champions didn’t make it to the finals.
Rott und Flott try a jump start, but Knight and Gunns were smart to it as Michael Knight bulldogged Charisma onto Schenkenberg before the bell. We finally get going with Schenkenberg throwing away an abdominal stretch, only to get caught in one as Gunns and Knight enjoyed the better of the early going. At least until Charisma stopped a springboard from Knight, as Rott und Flott turned things around, allowing Schenkenberg to hit a powerslam for a two-count on Knight. A double-team uppercut/German suplex combo gets a two-count on Knight, before Gunns made a save as Knight began to fight back with a Sliced Bread #2 to Schenkenberg out of the corner. Gunns gets the tag in and focused on Schenkenberg with uppercuts, before Charisma ran in and got popped up into a kick from Gunns.
Gunns and Knight hit Schenkenberg with the Rott und Flott Snapchat DDT, but it’s not enough for the win as another turnaround was sparked from some sneak attacks from Charisma. A chinlock from Schenkenberg keeps Gunns down, as did a dropkick-assisted side suplex, which almost won the match for Charisma. Knight continually has the referee distracted as he tried to flag up Rott und Flott’s underhanded tactics. Schenkenberg’s DDT to the leg jars Gunns’ knee on the way to another near-fall, but Gunns was able to fight back with a superkick… only for Charisma to pull Knight off the apron to prevent the tag. From there, Rott und Flott hit the Snapchat, but Gunns kicks out at two… only to wipe out the referee as he threw off Charisma.
However, Rott und Flott couldn’t capitalise as Gunns made the hot tag out to Knight, who ran wild… except the referee eventually came to and ordered Knight out, because he’d not seen the tag! Knight got back onto the apron, but got booted off as Rott und Flott went back after Gunns, hitting an avalanche Snapchat for a near-fall… because Knight pulled out the ref!
That got some boos from the crowd, as Knight was clearly fed up with the way things were going… he charges after Charisma and Schenkenberg back inside before Tassilo Jung ordered him back onto the apron. In the ensuing argument, Charisma grabs a tag title belt, but Gunns stopped him, then DDT’d him onto the belt for the win – as Rott und Flott’s attempt to work over the leg injury they caused Gunns last year failed… they exit at the first round against a backdrop of a frustrated Michael Knight, and some LOUD boos for that finish. ***¼
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Second Gear Crew (1 Called Manders & Mance Warner) vs. Astronauts (Fuminori Abe & Takuya Nomura)
I can attest, Manders’ hand slaps bloody sting!
Abe and Warner start us off, but Nomura’s quickly in as a kick to the chest downed Mancer early on. Manders equalises things with chops as both teams spilled outside, with Warner teasing a dive… only to poke Abe in the eyes. Back inside, Nomura’s cornered as Warner chopped away on him, while Manders came in to hit a blistering chop of his own. Abe breaks up the cover… and gets chopped for his efforts as Nomura was just getting worn down by the SGC. Warner shows off the acoustics of the Turbinenhalle with more chops, before Nomura’s body blows cut off a Dusty elbow. Nomura followed up with a deadlift body slam, before a tag brought in Abe, whose spin kick and PK to the back had Warner writhing.
Warner throws a right hand to Abe, who returns the favour as they went back and forth until Abe just threw a fist to the forehead. Those are exchanged as we built up to Abe’s Irabu punch, only for a lariat from Warner to land… Abe’s right back up, but we all fall down, especially after a huge shoulder tackle from the rushing Manders. Manders tags in, but he telegraphs a lariat as Abe’s dropkick cut him off. Nomura’s in as those two exchange blows, before Nomura Lykos’ it up with the telegraphed brainbuster. Headbutts from Manders follow before he hit a brainbuster of his own, but those two keep going, with headbutts and right hands leading to an Irabu punch from Abe.
Warner hits the ring, as does Nomura, to try and break the flow… before a wild Manders lariat left all four men down. Getting back up, we’ve an exchange of strikes as the SGC looked to pull ahead as Nomura ate a running knee from Warner, then a running powerslam from Manders for a near-fall. Abe breaks up the pin, but ends up taking a double-team chokeslam for his woes… Abe’s able to return with a brainbuster to Warner as the Astronauts double-team ends with more Manders lariats. Nomura goes for an armbar on Manders, aided with Abe’s dropkick taking the big man down… and with Abe trapping Warner in a manjigatame, Manders is left no choice but to tap as the Astronauts move on in a cracker of a first round match. ***¾
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Maggot & Psycho Mike vs. Dennis Dullnig & Hektor Invictus
So the running gag with Dullnig and Hektor is that “Cash” badly wants them to be a team, but Hektor has no interest… so Dullnig having a special (albeit intentionally cheesy) entrance made for them, featuring STAR WIPES, was a great touch.
Hektor’s wanting Dullnig to start on the apron, as we open with Hektor and Mike… Hektor’s left shaking his head at the “psycho cat” chants, as Mike had painted his face… and we finally get going with Mike working the hard cam with a wristlock. It’s reversed, but Mike still works the hard cam as he’s caught in a hammerlock, eventually countering into a side headlock before a shoulder tackle failed to budge Hektor. Mike hits the ropes, but with similar results, before Hektor sent Mike flying into the ropes with a shoulder tackle of his own. Maggot’s in and instantly began to go after Hektor’s cheek – the same one that had been left bruised and swollen after Hektor’s match with Jordan Oliver the prior night.
Hektor replies with a back body drop, before Dennis Dullnig slapped Hektor’s back hard to tag in. Of course, Hektor takes offence, and the pair argue while stopping to ensure Maggot keeps running the ropes before he was given a double-team hiptoss. Annoyed, Maggot kicks Dullnig’s leg, then punched him before handing out a Thesz press. Some biting keeps Dullnig on the back foot ahead of a suplex for just a one-count, as Psycho Mike tagged in to get a bunch of pin attempts on Dullnig, who continually pushed him away. The referee continually breaks up Mike’s stomps by the ropes, before Mike called for a bodyslam. Dullnig keeps rolling away as Mike tries to pick him up, which just wound up Mike to no end.
Fohrwerk goes all golf commentator on us as Mike ordered silence… and it doesn’t work as Mike ends up getting slapped silly. That makes him break down into tears, sitting on the apron as Dullnig and referee Rainer Ringer end up having their own pity party while Hektor and Maggot tried to keep a match going behind them. It made for quite a comedic visual… aided even more by Dave Prazak trying to play it straight. Eventually everyone hugs it out as the match resumed… but Hektor and Maggot were laid out in the middle of the ring from their exertions… so Dullnig and Mike punch themselves, and end up joining them on the mat. We’ve dualling pins and kick-outs to keep things ridiculous, before a Parade of Moves broke out, taking us to clotheslines from Psycho Mike and a spear from Maggot to take down Hektor.
Maggot takes things outside for a plancha on Cash and Hektor, while Mike rolled Hektor back inside to hit a bodyslam. Cash isn’t safe, as he’s rolled in and slammed onto Mike… while Maggot becomes a part of the pile too and got stacked up for a near-fall. Things look to be going well for Mike and Maggot, but a rocket launcher into a cutter goes awry as Dullnig held Maggot’s foot, so that rocket launcher just wiped out Maggot before double-teams on Mike led to a powerbomb from Hektor for the win. This went from the weird to the ridiculous, but it worked live as the unlikely duo made it through to the semis. ***¼
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Frenchadors (Aigle Blanc & Senza Volto) vs. RENEGADES (Mizuki Watase & Shigehiro Irie)
Last year’s festival winners are looking to repeat – but things have been a little rocky between the former tag team champions in recent months.
Irie and Aigle start us off, with Irie controlling things early on as he sent Aigle flying around by the arm. Aigle’s dropkicks looked to be little more than an annoyance for Irie, who ate a bunch of forearms before decking Aigle with a single one in return. Watase tags in and hits a hiptoss, then a low dropkick before Aigle found a tag out to Senza Volto, whose shoulder tackle found its target. A springboard tijeras from Senza Volto keeps Watase down, before Senza flipped off Watase in the corner. Aigle’s back as Watase’s double-teamed for a spell, getting chopped in the wrong corner ahead of a suplex and a senton atomico from the former champions. Watase fights back, getting help from Irie… only for the Frenchadors to skin the cat and hit duelling superkicks.
Aigle’s springboard crossbody gets him a two-count on Watase, while Senza Volto decided to unbutton Watase’s shirt so he could chop at the bare chest. A double-team gamengiri comes up short though as Watase ducked away… then hit a suplex to Senza, before finally making the hot tag out to Irie, who squashes Aigle with a crossbody off the ropes. Irie’s running clothesline into the corner sets up for a slam and the back splash out of the corner… Irie keeps going on, piledriving Senza Volto onto Aigle Blanc as he was a one-man wrecking crew for the RENEGADES. That becomes literal when he knocked Aigle off the apron with the diving crossbody, before Watase stripped off and hit a flip senton to the Frenchadors.
Back inside, the Bossman slam from Irie nearly wins it, before Aigle made a tag out… Senza popped his partner up for the assisted Dragon suplex to Irie, while a Meteora-aided Code Red nearly got the win for the former tag champs. The Frenchadors try for a double-team, but Irie pushes away before Watase pulled Aigle into a Tree of Woe for a cannonball and Coast to Coast dropkick combo. A second cannonball crushes Aigle from there for a near-fall, before a stuff Fire Thunder Driver forces Senza to break up the cover. Irie tries to put Aigle away with a Beast Bomber, but Aigle keeps collapsing to the mat… Irie throws those strikes anyway, headbutting away Senza before another Parade of Moves ended with Irie hitting a diving elbow to Senza.
Aigle keeps going with the headscissors driver through the ropes, before the Frenchadors headed outside and hit a pair of topes. Irie’s taken back in for a 450 splash from Aigle for a near-fall, before an Aigle tombstone and a Senza moonsault forced Watase to stomp apart the pin. Watase’s back to stop Aigle going off the top rope again, instead opting to bring him down with an avalanche side Russian legsweep before the Beast Bomber finally got the win. ***¾
Post-match, Aigle Blanc shook hands… but Senza Volto stormed off in defeat, as he’s been want to do lately.
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: AMBOSS (Laurance Roman & Robert Dreissker) vs. Los Vipers (Arez & Latigo)
This was Latigo’s wXw debut – with Arez having been over for 16 Carat Gold earlier in the year…
We open with Latigo and Roman, after Dreissker had thrown down the Vipers’ entrance masks… Roman works Latigo’s arm early on, but Latigo armdrags his way free before he chopped Roman as he avoided a leapfrog. Latigo winds up Robert Dreissker on the apron before he took Roman into the Vipers’ corner for some sneaky attacks from Arez. Arez tags in next to hit a low dropkick on Roman for a two-count, before an overhand chop stung Roman in the ropes. Some wacky misdirection into an armdrag keeps Arez ahead, as Roman finally made the tag out to Dreissker… who took a few blows before eating an enziguiri from Arez… before Arez’s crossbody just bounced off of the champion.
Arez’s overhead kick buys him time to tag in Latigo… who just runs into a Dreissker clothesline before a piggyback’d splash from AMBOSS crushed Latigo for a two-count. Latigo’s kept isolated in the AMBOSS corner as the Vipers were finding it hard to get anything going. Of course, just as I type that, Latigo manages to land an enziguiri as tags bring in Roman and Arez. Roman’s leapfrog’s caught and turned into a modified GTS and a brainbuster as we’re all just shouting that move out this weekend. Dreissker tries to intervene, but he’s double-teamed and swept out of the corner as Arez’s step-up moonsault and dive combo took out both men of AMBOSS. Latigo’s senton atomico sets up for a crushing double stomp off the top to Roman, but Dreissker breaks up the cover.
Latigo tries for a brainbuster but Roman escapes… Dreissker’s in but instantly gets suplexed for a near-fall, before AMBOSS rushed back in with the Roman facebuster and a Dreissker bomb to take home the win. ***¼
World Tag Team Festival 2023 First Round: Massive Love (Jurn Simmons & Levaniel) vs. Y2Kuties (Aaron Rourke & Ava Everett)
Now with a wacky shirtless security guard…
We start with Ava having little luck with a collar-and-elbow tie-up on Levaniel… the crowd’s chants at her don’t dissuade Ava, who wanted to try her hand with Jurn Simmons. She has a similar result, and ends up getting shoved back into the corner as Aaron Rourke came in…
Rourke’s taken into the corner for some mounted punches from Jurn and Levaniel, with those two spamming the ten punches like they were a modern-day Togi Makabe highlight reel. Eventually Massive Love switched it up as the crowd chanted for a bodyslam, instead getting a delayed double-team suplex on Rourke… forcing Everett in to rake Levaniel’s back to break the pin. Everett baits Levaniel into the ropes as Jacob Crane snuck in a cheapshot… but Rourke only gets a one-count from that before he caught Levaniel with a back cracker for a two-count. Choking follows in the ropes before Everett came back in to pull Levaniel’s hair… Rourke’s back for a nice Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall as the Y2Kuties began to exchange frequent tags.
Levaniel manages to find a way through with a discus lariat, before Jurn tagged back in to clear house. A press slam and a standing moonsault gets a near-fall, before Ava leapt on Jurn’s back to distract him from hitting a piledriver. It kinda works, but Jurn lays out Ava with a right hand… Jurn goes for the piledriver again, but gets shoved off and tripped up by Jacob Crane, who was summarily ejected for that. Except Jurn took pity and offered to make this a handicap match with Crane added… it’s accepted, but Crane’s bounced around with a Massive Kick… then a Galactic Facecrusher… before eating a piledriver. Aaron Rourke’s legal though, so it doesn’t count as he inadvertently hit a 450 splash onto Crane, before a Massive (spike) Piledriver on Rourke led to the win. I could have done without the tribute to Togi, but this felt like a match that’d have gone a little shorter had the women’s champion not been in it. **½
No Holds Barred: Icarus vs. Dover
The former Arrows of Hungary explode here – with Dover having been kicked out of AMBOSS a few months prior. This being made no holds barred perhaps should have tipped off that this wasn’t going to be any regular match… especially when Dover was announced as the “Hardcore Hungarian.”
After some jaw-jacking, Icarus slaps Dover to start, before the pair ended up outside as Dover took the fight to his former tag partner, kicking him around ringside. A quick trip into a dividing wall sees Icarus come up red, not helped by him getting posted as Dover looked to take control. Dover plants Icarus with a back suplex for a two-count, before the pair fought onto the stage… with Icarus walking to the back, only to return with a can that he smashed onto Dover’s head. Shooing away the crowd, Icarus teases throwing Dover off the stage, only for it to be blocked as Dover instead hits a bodyslam on the stage.
Icarus backs away, taking things back towards the ring… but manages to bait Dover in for a back body drop, with Dover clipping the edge of the ramp as he got wedged between the ramp and some chairs. OW. As Dover was trying to get back to his feet, Icarus went under the ring for some goodies… and found them in the form of barbed wire, a staple gun, and an old Arrows of Hungary 8×10. The photo and staple gun came to use as Icarus stapled it to Dover’s head, before a second staple was just sent into Dover’s head. Out comes the barbed wire next, with Icarus using it to punch the photo off of Dover’s head for a near-fall as the blood came out of Dover… while the staple was left in.
The barbed wire’s used to cut Dover open some more as Icarus then began to loosen the top turnbuckle some. Dover intervenes, but gets kicked away as that top rope’d been done up extra tight, allowing Dover to attack Icarus from behind to send him outside. Icarus is still leaking the red stuff, but was able to hang Dover’s arm across that top rope before he went outside… and found some skewers. Of course, the skewers are put to use, but it’s Icarus whose head gets turned into a human pin cushion… and oh dear lord the close-up of Icarus with that skewer under his scalp. An Air Raid Crash plants Icarus, removing those few skewers, for a near-fall, before Dover headed outside for some goodies of his own. He finds a drawstring bag while Icarus finally undid the top rope… and if you’ve watched any wrestling, you know what’s next.
A second Air Raid Crash is teased into the pins, but instead Dover takes Icarus onto what used to be the top rope… for an eventual Electric Chair Drop into the shiny pins. Icarus rakes the eyes as the pair were fighting from their knees, but it’s Dover who’s able to rattle off unanswered punches before Icarus cut off another Air Raid Crash with a sunset flip. Kicking out, Dover’s right back with a clothesline as he went to remove another turnbuckle… but Icarus cowers as Dover swung the turnbuckle at him.
Dover gets second thoughts, but a low blow from Icarus shows us he was playing possum as he then took that same turnbuckle and choked Dover with it. Icarus relents, but only to hit what used to be his half of the Crossfire before rolling Dover over to score the winning three-count. Icarus wins the “Final Arrow” – and gets that nickname – following a bloody battle that firmly slammed shut the book on the Arrows of Hungary. ****¼
Capped off with a bloody main event, the opening night of World Tag Team Festival hit the ground running, as the new tournament format raised the stakes from the off.