With the wXw tag team titles on the line, the final day of the World Tag Team League came to a rousing crescendo.
Going into the final day, we only had six matches – the final quartet of block matches, the tournament final and a non-tournament match between Da Mack and Mike Bailey. A4 were able to act as spoilers for Death By Elbow, who sat on four points after a win and a draw in their first two matches in block B. Should Death By Elbow slip up, then the LDRS would be guaranteed a place in the finals as long as they avoided defeat to Cerberus. Things were a lot tighter in block A, with all four teams stuck on three points, with head-to-head results likely deciding the finalist there.
We start with the same video highlighting previous tag champions from the second night, and another intro piece from the German commentators. Sorry Alan4L, I’ll try your English-language stuff down the line…
Block B: A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani) vs. Death By Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn)
In the pre-match promos, Absolute Andy was so dejected he could barely speak. To be fair, A4 can’t qualify for the finals… but that’s a rotten attitude (kayfabe!)
Hero and Andy start with a tie-up that ends in the corner, before Hero works a wristlock, and kips up out of it after Andy reversed the hold. Andy fires up with some chops, but reacts with indifference to Chris Hero’s. We get a series of shoulder tackles that hardly move Hero, who winds up the crowd and ends up… blasting Andy with a pump kick.
A diving shoulder tackle from Andy takes down Hero, before Marius Al-Ain misses a leap off the top rope and ends up squaring off. JT Dunn comes in cartwheels away from Marius, before flipping him off and ending a spot of rope running by hanging on to the top rope, watching Al-Ani crash and burn with a dropkick in the process.
The pair trade waistlocks, before Dunn gets a near-fall from a roll-up, but Marius replies with a dropkick to take down Dunn. A double elbow from A4 gets a cover on Dunn, as does a double-team suplex, and a running knee. Al-Ani tags back in and goes for the double-team leapfrog, but gets cut-off by Chris Hero as he takes down A4 with some rolling elbows.
Hero helps plant Dunn stick a back senton onto Al-Ani, but Marius fires back with punches to Hero, only to be dropped with another chop. Marius takes some chops in the corner as Dunn tries to pull himself to his feet with the help of the tag rope, before he tags in and adds to the chop count. Dunn grounds Al-Ani with an abdominal stretch, including pulling back on the leg Razor Ramon-style, but after getting the ropes, Al-Ani mounts a fightback, only to be pushed back into the corner as he went for a tag.
Marius eventually tags in Andy, who goes to town with clotheslines and a suplex on Hero, before landing the Absolute Kneedrop. Andy tunes up the band, but a blocked superkick leads to a spinebuster for a two-count on Hero. A top rope ‘rana from Andy sees Hero roll through onto his feet and follow-up with a bicycle kick, but Andy follows up with an F5 for a near-fall. Andy gets a Sharpshooter on Hero, but breaks it as he sees Dunn run in… and then tries to lock it on two people at once.
That fails, as Dunn hits a rolling elbow then drops Andy with an Ace Crusher over Hero’s knees. Dunn tags in and chops away at Andy again, before a low superkick and a knee strike sends Andy into the ropes as he blind-tags out to Al-Ani. Marius hits an atomic drop before a wheelbarrow German suplex gets a near-fall, before A4 finally hits the double team leapfrog.
Andy sets up Dunn for an F5, but Hero’s rolling elbow puts paid to that. Hero rolls over the top and to the floor as he falls victim to some more shots from A4, then an errant tope from Dunn. Al-Ani flies over the turnbuckles with another tope to the floor, and it looks like A4’s going to pick apart the pieces… except Dunn punches back, so we end up with some more brawling in the crowd. Hero blasts Andy with a forearm, before Hero and Dunn combine to pepper Andy with more elbows, then the Death By Elbow simultaneous-sandwiched-elbows.
Hero and Dunn again try to combine for a Doomsday Device, but Al-Ani slips out and ends up taking a forearm and a double-stomp to the back instead. More double-teaming sees Al-Ani take a superkick-assisted piledriver, but Marius kicks out, before he mounts another comeback against both members of Death By Elbow. Marius actually gets an advantage, but quickly falls to a double bicycle kick, then the Death By Elbow, but he still kicks out.
As Hero and Dunn looked to continue the assault with a superplex, Absolute Andy returned to the ring and intercepted the double team, taking the pair of them down with a powerbomb, before A4 went to their double-team finish – the F5, then an Al-Ani frog splash as A4 ensured they picked up something from the World Tag Team League. A fun match with I’d guess a shock result… one that ended up being for nought as A4’s win means that Death By Elbow are almost surely eliminated with them. ***½
Block A: Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. Los Gueros del Cielo (Angelico & Jack Evans)
With block A wide open, either of these teams could conceivably make the finals… they replay the same Ringkampf pre-match promo for the third day in a row. They couldn’t get Timothy to say more than one line in German?!
Thatcher and Angelico start with a wristlock, before Thatcher uses it for a suplex to take down the South African. They go back and forth, with Angelico getting a near-fall from a variation of a La Magistral cradle, before Jack Evans and WALTER tag in. Good luck with that Jack!
“Doctor Evans” calls for a dance-off to try and cheer up both WALTER and Thatcher… and a part of me really wants to see Timothy Thatcher breakdancing. They actually play some music for this (and try to overdub Uptown Funk with some more generic stuff, which sorta worked as a remix!), as Mean Mug Thatcher shrugs his shoulders on the apron… Jack break dances to start off his session, and for once doesn’t get kicked in the midsection whilst doing so. Mean Mug Thatcher comes in as Angelico starts dancing, but that referee is more concerned that all four men are in the ring… oh good Lord, Ringkampf shrugged their shoulders in time to the music, before obliterating the Lucha Underground duo.
WALTER slams Evans to the mat with a sense of anger about him, before Thatcher tags in to start his parade of gutwrenches, featuring a few from WALTER as well. After a slam, WALTER misses a back senton and gets rolled up for a near-fall, before a sit-down splash gets him a two-count over Evans.
Thatcher comes in with a single-leg crab on Evans, before tagging back out to WALTER who stomped away on Evans some more. Evans cartwheels away as Ringkampf collide with each other, and then hits a Quebrada to give him a chance at a tag… and after an overhead kick to WALTER, he finally tags out to Angelico.
Angelico uses Thatcher as a launchpad for a step-up knee strike in the corner, before he peppers Thatcher with some kicks and finally takes him down. More kicks follow as Angelico and Evans take Thatcher down again, before the standing, assisted 450 Splash leads to WALTER sliding in as Ringkampf lock their opponents in sleeperholds. Los Gueros work free, and outpace the opponents with more strikes, with a double dropkick from Evans taking them down once more.
A diving dropkick from Evans to the outside was caught by WALTER, who turned it into an apron powerbomb, as Angelico got caught on the top rope by Thatcher. A crucifix bucklebomb was avoided by Thatcher, as Angelico took a lariat, then a back suplex for a near-fall, but the end was near as both Evans and Angelico were quickly tapped in rear naked chokes, and given no choice but to tap out. This was probably the weakest tournament match of the lot, with the style clash not helping… ***
With Ringkampf having been beaten by JML on night two, they’ll only be able to make it to the finals if Mustache Mountain win the final block A match, by virtue of head-to-head results.
Our next segment features on-air personality Christian Jakobi (or “CMJ” as his entrance video says). He apparently turned heel, as he got “you sold out” chants… and much like the segment with Karsten Beck on night two, I’m going to have to tap out here as it’s all in German. In the middle of this, the “Urban German” Da Mack makes an appearance, wearing a Ringkampf t-shirt… except he rips it off to cheers from the crowd. Mack’s promo wanders between English and German.
Block A: Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. JML (Shane Strickland & David Starr)
Starr starts by sitting in the ring as if he were meditating, before he grapples Seven into the ropes with a waistlock. Seven’s own log-roll trip is used against him, as Starr proceeds to get a near-fall, which is enough to get the crowd to chant his name.
Starr talks Trent out of stamping on his arm… but instead he just drops a knee, which prompts Starr to repeatedly tag out to Shane Strickland. Shane tries to pinch Seven’s nose from a headlock, but instead gets sent into the ropes before they start doing cartwheels and backflips. So much ga-ga here, it’s almost like one of these teams is doing double duty…
Trent goes up top and teases a flip himself, but instead he just drops down to a massive cheer from the crowd. Tyler Bate tags in and teases a lucha-style flip over the ropes into the ring, but instead… just enters normally. We get some shoulder blocks, headscissors and dropkicks between Bate and Strickland.
David Starr comes in and pulls away on Bate’s moustache, so Trent Seven tries to negotiate a ceasefire… only for Shane Strickland to come in and pull away on the beard. Oh my God, Moustache Mountain hulk up and we get the beardy version of Joey Ryan’s penis spot, ending up with JML colliding into each other. Okay, that was awesome!
What the hell did I see next?! Simultaneous Sasuke specials from Tyler Bate and Shane Strickland, that’s what! We get Starr and Seven trading forearm shots in the ring, before they fight to their feet and end up upgrading to chops. Starr blocks some clotheslines with his head, then drops Seven with a rolling elbow.
Bate and Strickland return, with the latter handing out a tiltawhirl backbreaker, then a leaping backheel to Bate’s head. Another tiltawhirl from Starr sees Bate land on his front, and in position for a diving Ace crusher from Strickland, spiking his head on the mat en route to a near-fall. A leap off the top rope from Strickland’s countered with an European uppercut and a brainbuster from Bate, as a piledriver from Seven gets a near-fall.
Chops and forearms from Starr rocked Seven, before he took an accidental big boot from Bate. Tyler caught a crossbody from Starr, and then caught Strickland for an impressive Airplane Spin/Giant Swing combination. Jesus, Tyler is freaky strong and impressive for his age.
Trent Seven comes in with an overhand cricket chop and a piledriver to Starr, who quickly replies with a superkick to Seven and a German suplex into the corner on Bate. A rolling elbow from Starr knocks Seven down, as he’s then picked up for a double-stomp assisted German suplex – apparently called “Product Placement” – as JML pick up the win and secure their place in the final! A decent match, but nowhere near the stuff we’d seen earlier in the tournament. ***
“Die Alpha Lovers Heiraten!” – or “the Alpha Lovers marry!”
Yes, in the middle of the finals, we have a wrestling wedding! But first, a video package charting the “summer of love” with Melanie Gray and Kevin Roadster.
Well, it’s a wrestling wedding, so you know this wasn’t going to be straight-forward… Melanie Gray was attacked from behind by Alpha Female as she walked down the aisle. The injured Marius von Beethoven used his crutch to knock out Roadster as he tried to make the save, and that seems to sadden the commentators so much they almost burst into tears.
Alpha Female chokeslammed Gray into the crowd as von Beethoven snapped his crutch in two before using them as nunchucks on Roadster. We don’t see any more of the Alpha/Gray brawl, but we do see von Beethoven get taken down with a Rainmaker and an Alpha Slam as he went for a package piledriver.
Alpha Female hits the ring and misses a corner charge, before she catches Roadster on the top rope and superplexes the groom into the ring. Von Beethoven’s gotten Gray’s veil and spits in it, before tossing it to the crowd, as Marius and Alpha Female celebrate. Our regularly dubbed in music returns as Melanie Gray crawled back to the ring and consoled her (still?) fiance.
Y’know, I’d have taken Alpha Female more seriously had I not seen her need the help of an injured man to win a women’s tournament on the previous day…
Block B: Cerberus (Julian Nero & Ilja Dragunov) vs. LDRS (Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr.)
With the earlier results, this is effectively a “winner goes through” match, with no tie-breakers required. Cerberus jump-start the match and immediately throw Sabre to the outside, as the “Villain” gets double-teamed in the corner.
Scurll shoved Dragunov into Nero, before Ilja’s taken down with a back elbow, then again with a low dropkick. Zack’s recovered and gets tagged in so he can trade chops with Ilja, before instead deciding to take him down as the LDRS go to work on Dragunov’s legs. Scurll returns to stamp on Dragunov’s knees whilst Sabre stamps on the back, and the double teaming continues after Scurll had baited Nero into the ring, causing a distraction to the referee.
Dragunov gets his back raked by the Villain, and then takes a pendulum backbreaker for a near-fall. Ilja fights back with slaps, but gets thrown over the top rope to the floor, and in place for an attempted dive, as Adam Polak gets in the way to stop the Villain from flying. That distraction gives Cerberus the upper hand as they double teamed Scurll for a while, before Nero tagged in and shoved Scurll out of the ring.
More double-teaming from Cerberus sees Nero drop Dragunov with a uranage onto Scurll for a near-fall. Dragunov chops Scurll in the corner, before knocking Sabre off the apron, only to be taken down with an arm whip from Marty. Scurll finally tags out to Sabre, who kicks off Dragunov’s face three times, before going to kicks and uppercuts as a leg sweep drops Dragunov to the mat.
Ilja catches a PK attempt and dumps Sabre on his head with a back suplex, only for a springboard out of the corner to see Sabre catch him with an armbar that Nero runs in to break up (we knew he’d come…). Scurll stays in the ring after dispatching Nero to snap away at Dragunov’s fingers as Sabre wrenched on the other wrist, before a floatover Northern Lights suplex from Sabre led to an armbar.
Dragunov makes the ropes, but recovers to hit a pumphandle powerbomb for a near-fall after Nero’d pulled Scurll out of the ring. Nero and Dragunov stalk Sabre in the corner and connect with a Fireman’s carry slam and a back senton, but Zack kicks out at two. A second attempt sees Dragunov caught in a guillotine, before Nero kicks him off, as they get another near-fall from a pop-up into a knee-strike on Sabre.
From the kick-out, Scurll takes Ilja to the outside and superkicks him from the apron, before Nero boots Scurll in the head. Nero takes a “Just Kidding” superkick, before Adam Polak again gets involved by tripping Scurll. Marty drags Polak into the ring and looks to punch him, but instead Polak gets knocked off the apron from an errant strike from Nero, as Sabre gets a near-fall from an instant schoolboy after that.
Nero again picks up Sabre for a Fireman’s carry slam, but Zack shoves him away as Cerberus again bump into each other, leaving Nero alone in the ring for a pair of superkicks, and finally a PK as the LDRS take the win and their place in the final. A fine match, again, not anywhere near the levels as the first two days, but easily the best of the final block matches today. ***¾
Da Mack vs. Mike Bailey
Mack starts with a waistlock that Bailey switches into a hammerlock as they go back and forth with some basic grappling. What, no kicks? Mack sweeps the leg to get out of a wristlock and then applies an armbar but Bailey counters with a headlock, and handsprings off the ropes back into another headlock as Mack had pushed away.
The pair stand-off and end up with Bailey being leapt over twice before the pair try for dropkicks at the same time… and Mike goes to his kicking game. Mack fires back with forearms, but a low dropkick and a La Magistral gets Bailey a near-fall, before he rushes into a cornered Mack with a knee strike.
A trio of headstand dropkicks in the corner follows for Bailey, getting him a two-count out of it. Mack strikes back with two-handed chops, but takes some more kicks from Bailey, before Mack fires back with more of those corner chops. Bailey replies with a spinning roundhouse kick in the opposite corner, before a running corkscrew press gets him a near-fall.
Mack drops Bailey with a Slingblade, and then drops “Speedball” with a springboard roundhouse kick out of the corner. A pumping knee strike from Mack takes down Bailey, but he avoids an Ace crusher and goes to the cavalcade of left/right kicks that send Mack into the corner. Bailey misses a Yakuza kick and takes a rana, before a cannonball senton off the top knocks Bailey to the mat.
The pair trade off with forearm strikes, before Bailey throws in some kicks, only for a palm strike to send him to the ropes. Mack springboards in with a forearm strike, but Bailey turns a crossbody into a one-man Spanish Fly for a two-count. Mack ducks a series of kicks, before leaping off the top rope into a roundhouse kick for a near-fall. Bailey drags himself up, but leaps into an uppercut from Mack, but recovers and misses the shooting star kneedrop, and falls into “This Is It” (La Mistica) from Da Mack.
Bailey makes the ropes to break the armbar, before sending Mack to the outside for an Asai moonsault. They return to the ring where Bailey hits a running enziguiri on the apron, before his second attempt at the shooting star knees fails, with Mack countering it into the Mack Magic (Ace crusher) for the win.
This was a lot better than I was expecting, but without being too cruel, Mike Bailey’s one of those guys who is probably best suited to being a travelling act – there’s only so much you can do in one group with a “wrestler/whatever vs. a kicker” without it getting stale, and after three nights of this, against three different guys, we probably hit that limit. ***½
After the match, Ringkampf come out to confront Da Mack – and here we get WALTER, Timothy Thatcher and Mack’s former tag partner in Axel Dieter Jr. Bailey and Mack combine to attack Ringkampf, but the numbers game quickly sees the heels overwhelm them, as a big boot and a short-arm clothesline from WALTER floors Da Mack. WALTER punches Mack in the midsection as Thatcher held him in place, before Francis Kaspin and Johnny Evers run in to try and make the save. A little too late there guys…
Security eventually floods the ring to try and separate everyone, as A4 also run out – and I guess that’s a match they’re building towards down the line?
wXw World Tag Team League 2016 Final (for the wXw World Tag Team Championships): JML (Shane Strickland & David Starr) vs. LDRS (Zack Sabre Jr. & Marty Scurll)
The pre-match promos here ended with Zack Sabre Jr’s line of “I only dance in nightclubs”, which seemed like some misplaced anger, no? This match has a 60 minute time limit, and judging by how long’s left in the video… they’re going to use a lot of it!
Sabre and Dunn start, so you can guess what sort of stuff we get here – plenty of grappling! Dunn tries to mount Sabre’s back for a choke, but Zack escapes that as the pair end up at a stalemate. More of the same from Scurll and Strickland, as they try – and fail – to maintain a headlock takedown, before they decide to switch up their attacks and move to chops.
A kid in the front row screamed “this is awesome”, distracting Strickland, which led to Scurll chopping Shane and taking him down with a snapmare… before running over to shake the kid’s hand. Awesome stuff! Free from minor’s distractions, Strickland gets a near-fall out of a backslide, before Starr gets a two-count from a schoolboy roll-up.
Sabre and Starr work a knuckle-lock into a wristlock takedown, before some trash talking that led to Sabre getting a peck on the lips ended with a stiff European uppercut. Zack twists Starr’s neck between his legs before Scurll tagged back in to whip Starr hard into the corner. Sabre and Starr fought outside the ring, including another neck twist, as Scurll had the ref distracted.
Back inside, Starr uses a jawbreaker to free himself of a rear chinlock from Scurll, but was kept cornered by the LDRS, at least until he flipped out of a double atomic drop and tagged out to Strickland. A variety of headscissors take down Sabre, before Scurll kicks away a handstand for a near-fall. Scurll slams Strickland into the ropes (“Rick Martel spot”!), before Sabre uses a modified Lion Tamer on Strickland to try and force a submission.
Sabre’s whipped into the corner by Scurll – who propelled him into a low dropkick on Strickland – as the LDRS kept on top of JML. A folding powerbomb gets Scurll a two-count, before Strickland avoids a clothesline and took down the Villain with an enziguiri, then made the hot tag to David Starr and his flying fists.
Starr wipes out the two LDRS with topes on opposite sites of the ring, then another pair, before a lariat gets Starr a near-fall on Sabre. Zack fights to block a suplex, then dumps Starr with a bridging half-nelson suplex for a near-fall. A shotgun dropkick from Starr sends Sabre into the corner, before more tags bring in Strickland and Scurll for some more back and forth, and another powerbomb from Scurll.
Scurll’s first chicken wing attempt is blocked, and he ends up caught in the middle ropes after a superkick from Strickland, with a rope-hung DDT getting a near-fall. From their knees, Strickland and Scurll trade forearm shots, before a superkick rocks Strickland. They exchange strikes again, before knocking each other’s partner off the apron, as Strickland then gets a bicycle knee strike and cartwheels away from a “Just Kidding” superkick. Just as you thought someone’d finally outsmarted Marty, Strickland springboards off the ropes and into a chicken wing, as Sabre rushes in to catch Starr in an armbar, but “The Product” Starr uses Sabre to break up the chicken wing… by powerbombing Zack onto his partner.
After the LDRS took some forearms from JML, they returned the favour, before some pokes to the eye ended this back and forth. A bunch of superkicks to Strickland, then a PK got a near-fall – despite the LDRS piling on top of him. Starr saves Strickland from a superplex with a Product Placement (wheelbarrow suplex), as JML hit an assisted Product Placement on Scurll for an even-closer near-fall.
Scurll throws JML into each other, as Sabre kicked Starr into the ring post on the outside and then got the tag in… and went straight into a kick from Strickland. Sabre then countered a 450 Splash into a triangle choke, as Scurll tied down Starr with a Chicken wing. Strickland’s submission changed into a double armbar, but JML held on before eventually grabbing the ropes. Sabre again went for Strickland’s leg, but was shoved off – and into the path of the referee… which caused a loud groan as that bump happened.
Marty Scurll immediately entered the ring with the tag title belts, and looked set to hit Strickland with it… but he was stopped by Sabre! Who just did the belt shot himself… Scurll pulled the referee over to make the count, but Strickland kicked out at two. On the outside, David Starr no sold a bunch of superkicks from the apron, before launching into a fight against both of the LDRS, ending with a DDT on the apron to both Scurll, then Sabre.
Strickland recovered to hold up Sabre for a rolling elbow from Starr, before a pump handle driver… and that was it! JML take the win, the tournament, and the wXw tag team titles! A lengthy match, and fantastic work from both teams, without overdoing their usual tropes (apron spots and armbars, I’m looking at you!) ****¼
JML celebrated with the titles afterwards in amongst confetti – and yes, the “you deserve it” chant has reached Germany… before announcing that they’d defend their newly won tag titles in a TLC match at the “Broken Rulz” show in Frankfurt later in the month.
After four wXw shows over three days, I can safely say that I’m won over by this promotion. Sure, night three may have been the weakest of the three tag league shows, but overall this was a pretty great tournament with nary a bad match in sight. Over the weekend, photos emerged from the event in Oberhausen with a poster advertising their upcoming dates for the next three months, which for a company running in what we can probably say isn’t a hotbed of wrestling is quite impressive.
On that poster, by the way, was the reveal of a show in London on January 28th, with wXw cross-promoting with PROGRESS. That show’ll be at the 350-seater Garage in Islington, and once you add in wXw’s shows with Preston City Wrestling in November, you’ve got a company on form and looking to expand. If you’re not following them… make an effort, because it’ll be worth your while!
Just be warned: you will get that jingly music bed stuck in your head for days afterwards!