The 2018 World Tag Team League kicked off with a stacked card in the Turbinenhalle – who’s leaving Oberhausen with a head like a bowling ball?! Check our live review and find out!

RISE (Ivan Kiev & Pete Bouncer) vs. Coast 2 Coast (Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni)
We start on the pre-show, and there’s a bit of champion baiting as Shaheem was billed as “Absolute Ali.”

I want that singles match. Somewhere. On tape!

We start with Ali and Kiev, and it’s a low dropkick from Ali that has RISE on the backfoot early on. Tags swap everyone around, but the story doesn’t change… until Pete Bouncer knees his way out of a LSG sidewalk slam! There’s an axe kick and a sidewalk slam outta RISE as they take over, along with a double-stomp assisted whiplash neckbreaker as RISE were all over their American opponents.

Ali tags in as Coast 2 Coast get their foot back in the door, but it wasn’t to be as RISE picked up the win with a DDT. A pretty decent pre-show match – nothing too flashy, but enough to warm the crowd up for the courses to follow. **¾

Sebastian Hollmichel had a chunk of hair shaved off of him during the remainder of the pre-show… and now, it’s time! RINGKAMPF were by far and away the crowd favourites from the pre-show video – can they repeat last year’s World Tag Team League win? Let’s see… after the customary introduction of the field, with Karsten Beck playing the Jakobi role in terms of being an on-screen figure.

Toni Storm vs. Meiko Satomura
We start with women’s action, and a rematch of what I felt was match of the weekend last week – from EVE’s Global Women Strike. Of course, Meiko got her regular “big match theme”!

This one started on the mat, but it was Satomura who edged ahead with some kicks, only for Toni to take her into the corner for our first hip attack of the night. Satomura’s all about those forearms though, while Toni brought the headbutts, only to get spiked with a DDT. She avoids a cartwheel knee and comes in with a bridging armbar as Satomura… which led to the eventual rope break.

A Pele kick was Meiko’s reply to a headbutt, as was the cartwheel knee. Toni nails a ripcord leg lariat and the Strong Zero piledriver… but Satomura’s up at two, only to get caught with another Strong Zero as Toni wins this one in pretty quick fashion. A solid opener, albeit way too short for my liking and perhaps not a surprising victor given their relative pedigrees in wXw. ***

Could that win put Toni back on track to a wXw women’s title shot? She’ll need to win Femmes Fatales tomorrow to fast track herself!

Group A: Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani) vs. Lucha Bros (Penta el Zero M & Rey Fenix)
Our first World Tag Team League match is from group A, and the furthest-travelled teams to boot! Fenix showed off his rope-walking nous during his entrance, and we all felt jealous for it!

We’re all about the duelling chants early, and Kamitani didn’t take kindly to being cero miedo’d! Superkicks and clotheslines were the order of the day as we got off to as hot start, with Okami trying to blast their way through their Lucha foes. Fenix got fed up of it all, tagging in for a handspring double cutter before he was elevated from the runway into a double dropkick in the ring.

A wheelbarrow splash from the Lucha Bros got a near-fall, but it’s back to the chops and superkicks as Kamitani was damn near beheaded, before a stuff package piledriver (and a brutal tope con giro from Fenix into Hashimoto… and the third row) got the win. Excellent stuff to kick this tournament off. ****

“F*** me sideways, what a start”!

Group B: Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) vs. Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero)
Group B gets going with a match that continued a summer-long feud. I wonder what’s in Francis Kaspin’s envelope…

The champs jump Jay-FK before the bell, taking them into the crowd as the brawl-heavy opening series. Poor Jay Skillet had to endure chants of “Schurrle”, and the monstering-up of Avalanche, along with a Wasteland from Nero for a near-fall.

A low dropkick into Nero turns things around for Jay-FK, who cornered Nero with some stomps… but Nero gets free and brings the monster back in… and Avalanche gladly dishes out a belly-to-belly! Skillet tries to leap onto Avalanche, but he just bounces off him… and we get a pair of cannonballs out of the Austrian for that! Jay Skillet tries to introduce a belt to get the win – but of course he’s stopped by Tassilo Jung… which was the point as Francis Kaspin grabs the other one, only to be it with Boulder Dash as the tag champs pick up the pretty straightforward victory. ***¼

wXw Shotgun Championship Number One Contender’s Match: Julian Pace vs. Lucky Kid vs. Fred Yehi vs. Emil Sitoci
For these marquee shows, wXw really goes all out – the light show for Julian Pace, a guy who’s rarely on these shows is proof! In the last few episodes of Shotgun, the story has been around Tarkan Aslan trying to turn someone’s head – and have them take out Lucky Kid ahead of their match on Sunday. Could one of these good guys go bad and do the Lion King’s bidding?

But first, Marius al-Ani’s out to run his mouth and eat a bunch of moves, and we get going with some fairly comedic four-way shenanigans that gave way to Julian Pace hitting the ropes at his customary breakneck speed. Sitoci has enough of him and just dumps the newcomer with a powerbomb, before Fred Yehi arrives and gets all stompy. A small package from Yehi nearly puts away Sitoci, while Lucky Kid tries to blah his way to victory… but that doesn’t work out either.

Sitoci’s back with a release Fisherman’s suplex to Kid, before stacking up Lucky and Yehi for a split-legged moonsault that gets a near-fall for the Dutchman. Pace tries to clunk-click his way to a Code Red, but a shotgun dropkick from Yehi ends those ideas, while Marius al-Ani uses a belt shot to swipe away Lucky’s attempt at a handspring in the ropes.

Sitoci hits an elbow off the top onto the small of Lucky’s back after Fred Yehi was tossed to the outside – but it’s that belt shot that ends up being pivotal as Lucky couldn’t get Julian Pace up for a Liger bomb… and Pace converts it into Code Red for the win. An entertaining four-way – and that makes for an intriguing title match tomorrow; one that could be a proving ground for young Julian. ***¼

Group A: CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) vs. RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)
An apt choice to close out the first half of the show – perhaps the two favourites in a stacked group A?

The former Calamari Thatch Kings start us off, being nice and polite before we got WALTER and Gresham. Der Ringgeneral wasn’t as jovial, nor was Gresham… but he paid for it with murderous chops! With Gresham down, Timothy Thatcher comes in to keep it grounded with some knees, only for his own knee to get jacked as Gresham stayed on the mat. Brookes tags back in to take some shots at his former tag partner, while riling up WALTER in the process.

Gresham’s quickly back to bat Thatcher in the patella, still working that knee, as CCK looked to be rather comfortable here. Brookes flips off WALTER… and gets a big boot for it as he had held Thatcher in an Octopus, and there’s your turnaround as WALTER tags in so he can keep on striking Brookes… legitimately! Jonathan Gresham’s breaking up pins and running for his life as his partner’s kept isolated, far away from any hope of a tag.

WALTER brutalises Brookes with a chop and a choke as he was draped across the top turnbuckle. Things turned around a little with a back senton off the top to a doubled-over Thatcher, before Gresham tried to outfox RINGKAMPF, only to bounce off of them with a crossbody off the top. Gresham nearly nicked it by flipping back on a Gojira clutch, getting a two count out of Thatcher.

A textbook bridging German gets Gresham a little closer to the W, but he’s quickly targeted with a powerbomb/uppercut after taking a shotgun dropkick into a cornered Brookes. Gresham looked to have lost a chop battle, but he’s right back up, and after getting caught in duelling Gojiras, CCK looked to have it won – helped when WALTER clotheslines his own man, as Thatcher takes a slingshot cutter before Gresham traps him in an Octopus for the submission. This was every bit as good as you’d expect, right down to what has to be an upset victory for the original CCK. ****¼

Group B: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Team SPLX (Jeff Cobb & Angelico)
Fletcher and Angelico get us going, trading wristlocks to ease the crowd back into it.

Tags bring us a spot of big lads’ lucha, ending with a ‘rana and kip up from Cobb, before Davis “struggled at a kip up”, which just led to some double-teaming. Fletcher stays in to hit a back senton that barely fazes Cobb… but Dunkzilla’s did, and got a near-fall for the Aussie. A back suplex from Cobb manages to take them both down at once, before Angelico came in to raise the pace, cracking Davis with a step-up knee in the corner.

After a series of kicks and knees, Angelico tries to force a submission out of Fletcher, before he instead opted to bring in the big man. Cobb toys with Fletcher, tossing him eventually with a gutwrench suplex before bringing Angelico back in to go for another submission attempt… which didn’t work as Cobb returns with a standing moonsault for a near-fall.

Eventually Fletcher gets free and tags in Dunkzilla for his customary hot tag series of clotheslines and chops, before Dunky squashes Cobb with a sit-down splash out of the corner. Angelico avoids the pull up piledriver and brings Cobb back in – and it’s not long before Jeffrey’s flinging people around as an Athletic-plex nearly puts Kyle Fletcher away.

A quebrada from Fletcher – and a sneaky tag – helps turn it back around, as Davis sent Angelico sky high with a flapjack. Cobb tries to finish Davis with a German suplex, but flips from Fletcher and Angelico broke that up… and it’s the Aussies that keep ahead, with a double-team Go To Sleep putting Angelico down, while an assisted cutter nearly led to the pin on Cobb.

Angelico makes another save as the Aussies prepped for a double-team – then played a part with a leaping Doomsday knee to Fletcher for a near-fall. Fletcher slips out of an inverted Splash Mountain as the Aussies quickly laid out Angelico with the double-team spinebuster/powerbomb for the win. A good tag match, but there was something about this one that held this back for me. Please don’t high five me to death at the lanes! ***½

Hair vs. Hair: Jurn Simmons vs. David Starr
We’ve a no-DQ stipulation here too as a story that began back at last year’s World Tag Team League, went via losses to Alexander James and should have culminated at 16 Carat Gold… ended up going the full 12 months to tonight’s main event!

Felix Schultz is our referee, which makes me think someone’s taking a nasty landing tonight. Jurn’s got his kendo stick of doom with him, and we start on the aisle as the pair shut up and fought! They brawled up to the stage, trading lefts and rights before where Jurn went to the back briefly, returning with a WAX STRIP that he put onto Starr’s chest… and yanked it off! I believe that may be a take on what the kids are saying these days: Veet! Jurn’s got something else – a lemon, which he squeezes onto the bloody chest, which prompts Starr to leap off the stage, which took the brawl through the rarely-seen VIP balcony and right by press row. Hi there! Up high, there’s naturally a tease of balcony-related homicide, with Jurn trying to use his wooden sword to force Starr away, before poor Sebastian Hollmichel got caught up in it, with his commentary notes going flying to the ground below.

They head back down to ringside, where Jurn threatened a piledriver on the floor before Sebastian threw down Jurn’s sword! Starr caught it, used it, then ran back up as he climbed on the balcony and leapt off onto Jurn down below! While Jurn recovered, Starr pulled out some plunder from under the ring… including a regular Singapore cane, which he choked his former tag team partner with. The rest of that plunder didn’t quite come into play as Jurn went to the back of the room and grabbed a crowd barrier, which he places between two dividing walls… but not to worry, Starr just slams him on the floor first, which acted as a delay of sorts as Starr took Jurn’s no-bump suplex from the floor onto the railings. Ow.

Back in the ring Starr uses his plunder – a staple gun to Jurn’s dome! Simmons clubs his way back in, before using the staple gun to (as one person said) “give him a forcible comb-over”. The crowd are not liking Jurn’s brutality, as he torqued away on Starr’s back before shoving him down to the mat. We’ve some staple gun shots from Jurn too, as he saved himself from a chairshot as the Dutchman used a big lariat as the Product continued to bleed. Starr eventually hits back with venom, though, using a chair to good effect before dumping Jurn through one with a Blackheart Buster for a near fall. OW.

There’s more plunder, as Starr grabs, then empties out a massive bag of thumb tacks. At least it was on brand, in the new wXw Love Wrestling/Hate Racism bag, but as wrestling logic dictates, he takes them, courtesy of a pair of gutwrench powerbombs! Cheers to the cameraman for zooming in on Starr’s back after the first one, showing blood and pins…

There’s barely anything in his kick-out from that, so Jurn decides to behead Felix Schulz. WHY?! Starr goes to behead Jurn – and delays, giving him clemency, before whacking his head anyway (huge pop). With Shooter Schulz being carted out, Tassilo Jung runs down to count the near-fall, before individually removing the tacks from Starr’s back. OW. Again. David Starr’s had quite a few deathmatch-like matches this year, but it doesn’t make these visuals any less intense. Starr sprinkles some thumbtacks on chairs for an extra painful Product Placement, but Jurn escapes and feeds him some pins… before knocking them out of his mouth with a “Bloody, Massive Boot”. EW. We’ve a tease of an avalanche piledriver onto the chairs from Jurn, but it’s Starr who hits the move, using a Trapped Arm Bob Fossil putting Jurn through the chair… and that’s enough for the pin! Jurn Simmons is losing his locks! ****½

That was an immensely popular result for the Oberhausen crowd… even if the anti-Starr fans just took pleasure in how much damage he took in this. With David Starr off to Italy and England for the rest of the weekend, he won’t be around to deal with the repercussions. The head shaving commenced as Emil Sitoci and Dirty Dragan appear to chase Jurn back to the ring, with Dragan, Starr and Sitoci each having a shot as the former wXw champion lost his locks.

This was an amazing opening night to the World Tag Team League – with two of the group matches being absolute stormers, and a gloriously brutal main event. How in heaven’s name do you top this? Well, there’s only one way to find out! If you’re reading this now, it’s on wXwNOW – stop what you’re doing, sign-up (if you haven’t already) and watch this.

Your standings after the first night’s action:

Group A:
CCK, Lucha Bros (3pts)
Okami, RINGKAMPF (0pts)

Group B:
Aussie Open, Monster Consulting (3pts)
Jay-FK, Team SPLX (0pts)

Tomorrow’s action features

Group A: Lucha Bros vs. RINGKAMPF
Group A: CCK vs. Okami
Group B: Monster Consulting vs. Aussie Open
Group B: Team SPLX vs. Jay-FK

If you can’t be there… stick around for our live report on Saturday night!