After taking our first look at wXw earlier this week, we’re going to dip into the 2016 World Tag Team League, starting with night one. Because any other night would be stupid!
Like with just about every other medium sized-or-greater promotion, wXw (Westside Xtreme Wrestling… now you know why they just use the acronym) have an on-demand service, in the form of wXwNOW.de. For a fee of €9.99 a month, a chunk of their back catalogue is online, with some of it in English too, for those who are put-off by foreign languages.
The entire event was held over three days in Oberhausen, featuring four shows (three WTTL shows, and a fourth show, “Femme Fatales” card). As for the tag league, there’s plenty of big name entrants, including Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven), the LDRS (Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll) and the Ringkampf pairing of WALTER (formerly Big Daddy Walter) and Timothy Thatcher.
I’ve always found it odd how wrestling sticks to Anglicisms, even in foreign lands. See: every time Milano Collection A.T. swears in New Japan, or here, where “World Tag Team League” is used on a German show.
The show starts with all of the tag teams being introduced, and then some jaunty music dubs over the ring entrances. Trent and Tyler get an inset promo to build themselves up. Timothy Thatcher and WALTER have their promo in German, and unfortunately, my German just about picked up Thatcher giving his name, and WALTER promising “absolute hurt”.
Block A: Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) vs. Ringkampf (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)
Bate and Thatcher start with the typical grappling you’d expect from Thatcher, before Bate’s pushed into the ropes as Thatcher escapes a headlock. They trade European uppercuts, Thatcher tags in WALTER, who whips Bate to the mat, before sending him flying with an European uppercut.
WALTER counters an O’Connor roll with a big boot for a near-fall, before Bate rolls away from an elbow drop, only to take a sit-down splash for a near-fall. Thatcher comes in, and gets Bate’s boot to the head, before he cartwheels out to tag in Trent Seven. Thatcher doesn’t react to chops, but sure does sell a forearm! A big boot in the corner cuts off an overhand chop, before Seven gets a Dragon suplex for a near-fall.
Thatcher counters a ripcord forearm with a Saito suplex, then grapevines Seven’s leg so WALTER can come in and crank away on Seven’s head. WALTER and Thatcher go to town on Seven with gutwrench suplexes, but Seven kicks out after taking four of them. He tries to make a comeback, but the much bigger WALTER chops him down with ease, before Seven countered a powerbomb into a DDT.
Tyler Bate gets the hot tag in finally, and he lays into Thatcher with European uppercuts, then a knee-lift, before a diving European uppercut off the middle rope takes down the EVOLVE champ. Thatcher kicks back though, but he ends up taking a diving dropkick from WALTER after Bate’d gotten out of the way. “Mein Gott!” was the cry as Bate deadlifts WALTER up into a German suplex for a near-fall, before tagging Seven back in to land a ripcord lariat on the big guy.
Thatcher takes over, but he gets double teamed, and takes a piledriver from Seven… but WALTER is the legal man, and he takes down Trent with a Gojira clutch (or the Bully Choke if you saw the Cruiserweight Classic), which forces Seven to submit. Fun opening match, in spite of Timothy Thatcher being involved. ***½
More jaunty music dubbing over Ringkampf’s music, and that takes us to our next match, with a horrific rendition of “Armbars and Chickenwings”:
Block B: A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani) vs. LDRS (Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr.)
Randomly, Zack Sabre Jr was picked up saying “all of my bones hurt” before the bell went, and we get going with some tentative tie-ups between Sabre and Andy. After the sum of nought in terms of action, we get tags, as Marty Scurll takes Marius Al-Ani to the mat with a waistlock, and then gets taken into the corner.
Marty and Marius trade wristlocks, before Scurll holds up Marius’ leg for Sabre to work over. Al-Ani gets a dropkick to get him back in the game, and quickly tags out to Andy, and that leads to Sabre being worked over by A4, which has to be the first tag team to be named after a size of paper…
Scurll gets tagged in and takes down Al-Ain from the corner, before the LDRS combined for a weird/wacky double team submission and pinfall combination. A backbreaker from Scurll takes down Al-Ani, and we see some heel Zack as he uses the tag ropes to choke Marius in the corner. Absolute Andy tries to come in with a tag rope to show the referee what’s going on, but that distraction only gives Marty a chance to kick Marius in the balls.
After absorbing some punishment, Al-Ani finally makes a comeback by leaping over Sabre and using an overhead belly to belly suplex, before we get a pair of tags as Andy lays out Scurll. A stalling suplex from Andy takes down Sabre, but he takes way too long to set up for a superkick… but he still overcomes the LDRS with a double suplex. Al-Ani comes in and goes flying with a plancha to the outside, before he gets a wheelbarrow German suplex to Scurll back inside the ring.
A4 set up for their double team finish, but Scurll counters a Fireman’s carry into a DDT, before Al-Ani eats a “Just Kidding” superkick. Sabre catches Andy in an Octopus stretch (“Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness”), but Andy reverses it into a tombstone, and switches it up into the old World Greatest Tag Team leapfrog/seated senton.
Scurll makes a save with a superkick, but the distraction lets Sabre roll up Andy for a near-fall, which the German quickly matches with a superkick of his own for a two-count. Andy deadlifts Sabre up into a suplex, but Zack counters, only to be taken down into a Sharpshooter, and finally makes the ropes after various fans at ringside troll him by pushing and pulling it from him.
Andy tries for a second superkick, but he’s stopped by Scurll who clotheslines him outside, before Al-Ani takes him there and follows with a tope. A spinebuster from Andy’s countered with a triangle choke from sabre, but Andy tags out and powerbombs him, before Al-Ani’s frog splash gets a near-fall. More back and forth ends with a spinning heel kick from Al-Ani to Scurll, who then retaliates with a finger snap, and finally a chicken wing, which forces a submission after Andy’s F5 using Sabre was prevented as Sabre switched it into a guillotine. A really fun tag match, and a pleasant surprise for someone who’d never heard of either of A4 before this. ***¾
Alexis Rose vs. Leah Vaughan
A non-tournament match here, and a warm up for the next day’s Femmes Fatales show. Rose cartwheels around Vaughan’s wristlock, but the Canadian grabs the ropes to break the reversal.
Rose takes Vaughan down with a test of strength, that gets reversed, but Rose’s monkey flip ends with her getting some near-falls over Vaughan. Leah uses the hair to snapmare Alexis across the ring twice, but Rose Matrix’s her way out of a clothesline and regains the advantage.
Rose cartwheels on the top rope to avoid an avalanche charge in the corner, then takes down Vaughan with a big boot. Vaughan gets a near-fall from a Fisherman’s suplex, before stomping away on Rose. Leah heels to the crowd by running the ropes as a set-up for a rear chinlock, before getting a diving dropkick for a near-fall. A sidewalk slam follows for Leah, who whips Rose from corner-to-corner, before mocking her with some Scott Steiner-esque push-ups.
Vaughan finally gets taken down with some clotheslines out of the corner, before a handspring back elbow from Rose and a neckbreaker gets a two-count. After Vaughan misses a Yakuza kick in the corner, Rose lands a shoulderbreaker/Dominator, before missing a moonsault as Vaughan rushes in for the win with a spear. Decent match, and much better than we’d see from either of these on the women’s-only show the next day. **¾
wXw Shotgun Championship: Pete Dunne vs. Da Mack (c)
Mack is riding the crest of a wave after being involved in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic, whilst Pete Dunne seems to be rivalling Mark Haskins in terms of collecting belts.
Dunne starts with a wristlock takedown on Mack, who reverses with some cartwheels before sweeping the leg. Regardless, Dunne gets a headlock takedown and goes for almost an Anaconda Vice briefly, before flipping over as Mack frees himself by walking on his hands. Mack dropkicks Dunne to the outside after he hooked himself in the ropes, and the pair quickly end up outside, where Dunne chops the post.
Da Mack chops Dunne for real in the ring, before Dunne takes a flying forearm and a Rolling Thunder after his attempt to knock Mack off the top rope went badly wrong for him. Dunne succeeds seconds later with a rope hung DDT for a near-fall, before going back to the ground game with a double armbar, with an attempted spot of biting. Another double armbar from Dunne is intensified with some added torque on the wrist, before he stamps on the knees and catches Mack in a reverse figure four.
After a rope break, Mack finally fires back and takes down Dunne with a Slingblade, before a sunset flip powerbomb takes Dunne to the outside. Mack’s springboard double axehandle knocks the challenger to the floor, but back inside Dunne flattens Mack with a corner dropkick. A second corner charge is countered with a ‘rana, and then a corkscrew senton off the top rope from the champion.
Dunne counters an Ace Crusher by biting Mack’s fingers… and Da Mack immediately gets a receipt! Some back and forth follows in terms of strikes, before Mack pops up from a German suplex and lands a roundhouse kick out of the corner to take Dunne down once more. The pair battle it out with duelling forearms, before a forearm from Dunne knocks Mack down as he tried to springboard out of the corner.
A release suplex gets Dunne a near-fall, as does a sit-out powerbomb, so he resorts to stomping Mack’s head on the mat. Mack counters the Drop Dead with a DDT, then hits a cross-legged Falcon arrow for a near-fall. Some knees to the head follow before Dunne pushes away another Ace crusher, only to get taken down with La Mistica. Dunne rolls through though, and surprises Mack with the Drop Dead… and wins the belt! Much, much better than you’d have seen from Da Mack in the CWC, but with this calibre of opponent – and the time given – it’s no surprise. ****
Block B: Cerberus (Ilja Dragunov & Julian Nero) vs. Death By Elbow (JT Dunn & Chris Hero)
Cerberus were the reigning tag champions, before they had the belts taken off of them going into the World Tag Team League.
Ilja and Dunn start off, with a series of dropkicks taking Ilja into the corner. After playfully shoving Dunn, Ilja gets a straight right to the head, as the pair trade kicks back and forth, ending with a ‘rana from Dunn.
JT connects with a leg lariat for a near-fall, before Chris Hero came in to squash Dragunov with a back senton for a near-fall. Hero and Ilja trade chops, and that quickly leads to Cerberus double-teaming Hero in the corner after Ilja and Nero trade tags. Julian Nero tags back in and quickly locks up Hero in a rear chinlock with both arms trapped, but Hero frees himself and starts trading more chops with Dragunov.
Cerberus kept trading frequent tags as Hero peppered both of them with shots, as Dunne came in and kicked Ilja on the apron, before a pump kick to Nero leads to him being hotshotted onto the top rope. Dragunov stalks Dunn, but he fights back, only to be slammed straight back to the mat for a near-fall, and then straight into a grounded abdominal stretch.
Dunn flips out of a back suplex as Ilja knocks Hero off the apron, before Dunn rolls through into an Ace crusher to take Ilja down. Just as Dunn went to make a tag, Julian Nero pulls Hero off the apron, and shoves Dunn into a massive lariat from Dragunov that sent him corkscrewing to the mat.
Dragunov stays on top of Dunn, and openly taunts him into tagging in Hero, but of course that doesn’t happen, and Cerberus stay on top. Nero stomps on Dunn in the corner, before an old school shoulder breaker gets him a near-fall. In comes Ilja once more, and a snapmare and an elbow drop gets him a two-count, and just as I start losing interest in this heat segment, Dunn tags in Hero!
Hero slaps both of Cerberus, then upgrades to chops before a double clothesline eventually drops the former champs. After catching a kick, Hero drills Ilja with a knee lift, then a release suplex for a near-fall. Dunne comes in and throws Ilja into a Cyclone Kill (discus big boot), but that only gets Hero a near-fall.
More chops from Hero seem to fire up Dragunov, so he takes an elbow before Nero tags in and goes for a slingshot into a back suplex, which Ilja just about pulls off! Hero still kicks out, but needed Dunn to save him from some double-teaming. Dunn gets wiped out, so Hero has to do it himself, with a double big boot and a double forearm to the former champions, but Cerberus surprise him with a Fireman’s carry slam and a back senton off the middle rope for another near-fall.
Nero gets to his feet first as all four men end up in the ring, and this descends into a battle of forearms for a while, with the odd pump kick from Hero thrown in. Cerberus chops their opponents into the ropes, but Death By Elbow reply with pump kicks, before Dunn counters a fireman’s carry from Dragunov into a reverse ‘rana into an elbow from Hero. A backslide from Nero gets a near-fall on Hero, and a series of rolling elbows, then a pair of sandwiched rolling elbows get the win for Death By Elbow. A solid match, but they lost me early on with the long period of heat on Dunn. They recovered from that, but that could have done with being a touch shorter. ***½
Number One Contendership for WXW Unified World Wrestling Championship: “Bad Bones” John Klinger vs. Mike Bailey
After seeing him at Rev Pro earlier this year, I really hope Bailey does more than throw kicks here…
Bailey starts by feinting a series of kicks at Bad Bones, but gets taken down with a knee to the midsection as Bones goes to work on the Canadian with mounted punches in the worner. A dropkick to the head of Bailey cut off his brief comeback, with a back body drop getting Bones his first near-fall.
After trading some chops, a karate kick from Bailey takes down Bones, and he then takes his opponent into the ropes for some rapid-fire kicks, before an O’Connor roll and a backflip into a double knee drop gets Bailey some near-falls. A trio of handstands into dropkicks from the corner rock Bones, but he’s still able to kick out before three.
They trade chops again, before a spinning back kick takes Bones into the corner, before Bailey cartwheels away from a missile dropkick. We get a baseball slide dropkick to the outside, then a faked dive and finally another low diving dropkick from the Canadian. A running dropkick on the floor takes down Bones, who countered a top rope dive from Bailey with a Codebreaker in the middle of the ring. An overhead suplex from Bones sends Bailey into the corner for some leaping forearms, then some chops, but of course, Bailey goes back to the kicks and sends Bones to the outside with a roundhouse kick.
Bailey goes to the apron, but his attempt at a dive is cut off as Klinger yanks him to the apron, before going airborne with a low tope, which is greeted with a rare line of perfect English from our German commentary team: “he is the one who knocks you down!” They return to the ring, with a slingshot spear from Bones and a superkick taking down Bailey for a near-fall.
Bones leaps onto Bailey with a crossface, but it’s reversed into a cover for a two-count, before Bailey gives us the result of a crossbody and a Spanish fly, which also gets him a near-fall. That was the damndest thing I’ve seen from him… without his fingers getting bent all the way back, that is! Bones catches a kick from Bailey, but can’t stop an enziguiri, before he slams Bailey back to the mat.
A roundhouse kick from Bailey gets another two-count after Bones tried for the “Wrecking Ball” knees. More kicks from Bailey rock Bones, who finally makes a comeback, only to fall into the rapid-fire left-right kicks to the midsection and then another roundhouse… for just a one count! Bones sets up Bailey for a belly-to-back superplex, but “Speedball” drops down to the apron and lands another kick, before the shooting star kneedrop to the back of Bad Bones gets another near-fall.
Bones ducks a trio of kicks, before dumping Bailey with a lariat and a release German suplex. The Wrecking Ball knees in the corner miss, but Bailey’s taken down with the Rebel Lock (crossface), as the Oberhausen crowd chant “please don’t tap”.Bailey makes the ropes, but Klinger immediately puts the hold back on and then lariats Bailey inside out after he’d fought back to his feet.
A bicycle kick to the head gets Bones a two-count, before his attempt at a move is countered with a wheelbarrow roll-up as Mike Bailey gets the win. Another good match, but I’m far from sold on Mike Bailey. There is such a thing as too many kicks… ***½
Bailey gets the microphone after the match and says that he won’t shake Bad Bones’ hand, but he will instead bow to him. Sadly, Bones didn’t kick his head off for that. They do shake hands anyway, as Bailey offers Bones a title shot if Bailey gets the gold… “anywhere in the world… except the USA”. Cute. The current champion Jurn Simmons comes out to chants of “Chewbacca”. He congratulates Bailey on becoming number one contender, and brands him a vanilla midget. Kevin Nash was reborn as a German?! The segment ends rather oddly with Bailey saying that “he talks because he has to, not because he likes the sound of his voice”, as everyone heads to the back.
Block A: Los Gueros del Cielo (Angelico & Jack Evans) vs. JML (David Starr & Shane Strickland)
Angelico and Evans jump JML at the bell, and we almost have a quick main event as Strickland’s forced to kick out from a neckbreaker/backbreaker combo from Los Gueros.
Strickland misses a dive into the corner on Evans, as the latter comes in to help Angelico with a stuff sideslam, before Davis Starr uses Evans to break up a submission attempt on Strickland.
Strickland and Starr double-team Evans in the corner, before a tiltawhirl slam from Starr and a diving Ace crusher from Strickland gets a near-fall. Angelico goes flying with an attempted double Blockbuster, but he’s caught in midair and eventually knocked to the outside. A tope from Starr and a Sasuke special from Strickland take out Los Gueros on the floor, and they quickly return to the ring as Angelico uses a wheelbarrow roll-up to send Starr into the turnbuckles, crotching Strickland in the process.
A flying hip attack from Jack Evans to the top rope sends Strickland down to the floor, allowing Los Gueros to sweep the legs of Starr and combine for a standing 450 splash that gets a near-fall. Angelico lifts up Starr in a Fireman’s carry, but Starr works free as JML combined… only for Starr’s Iconoclasm to end up seeing Evans take down Strickland with a clumsy ‘rana.
Evans fires back with a roundhouse kick to Starr, but gets taken down with a superkick from Strickland as this turns into a rapid parade of moves. A double superkick knocks down Angelico, but he replies with a series of kicks to both of JML for a near-fall. Angelico looks to finish off Starr, but he grabs the ropes… only for Jack Evans to leap on top of him andmisses a moonsault onto Strickland outside. Starr fights back and counters a springboard from Angelico into a death valley driver/backbreaker onto Strickland’s knees for a two-count, with Evans making the save.
Starr throws Evans outside again, as JML look to finish off Angelico with an assisted German suplex. That didn’t happen, as Evans came in and got his knees up behind Starr, who somehow laid on Evans’ knees for long enough to take a double stomp from Angelico after he’d landed on his feet from the German suplex. Add that to the “looked good, but made little logical sense” pile of moves…
Another dive from Angelico took out Starr on the outside, as Evans’ reverse rana dropped Strickland, before Angelico’s “Fall of the Angels” (crucifix buckle bomb) for a near-fall on Strickland. From the kick-out, Evans hits the 630 Splash, and that’s it – Los Gueros del Cielo take the win in a frantic main event that I just really struggled to get into. This stood out on the card alright, but perhaps not for the right reasons… ***¼
After the first night, the World Tag Team League stands like this – with 3 points given for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss:
Block A: Los Gueros del Cielo (3pts); Ringkampf (3pts); JML (0pts); Moustache Mountain (0pts)
Block B: Death By Elbow (3pts); LDRS (3pts); A4 (0pts); Cerberus (0pts)
So, for my first “true” to the wXw product, I now have their jingly music bed stuck in my ears, but overall it was enjoyable. There may have been matches that didn’t seem to be in the right place (I’m looking at you, main event!), but from top to bottom this was a solid card to start off the three-day-long World Tag Team League. Bring on the rest of the tournament!