It’s back to the Turbinenhalle (and a MOLTEN HOT CROWD) for the middle-Saturday – and a massive world title match as the World Tag Team League again delivered the goods!

The morning of the show brought news that Absolute Andy wasn’t going to be able to defend his title due to injury… so Ilja Dragunov and Bobby Gunns were to go at it to crown an interim champion instead. Although weirdly the show-opening stuff on commentary didn’t address it…

wXw Shotgun Championship: Julian Pace vs. Marius al-Ani (c)
Julian Pace won out in the four-way last night to get this shot – his second at the Shotgun title, having already lost to Bobby Gunns over 16 Carat Gold weekend earlier this year.

al-Ani made a point of tossing Pace to the outside repeatedly in the early going, before he targeted the leg of his challenger’s leg. An attempt to go Vollgas with rope running ends with Marius clotheslining him to the outside. Second time looked to be the charm, but a dropkick’s caught and turned into another ankle lock, which Pace manages to escape from as he found a second wind.

A second wind that’s quickly snuffed out as al-Ani took Pace into the corner for a clothesline that nearly ended it. Marius decks Julian with a forearm as he looked to rough up his challenger, who responds with a boot into the corner and a forearm of his own, ahead of a roll through into a neckbreaker for a two-count.

Marius manages to go for the sunset flip/kip-up/Exploder combo, but Pace stuffs the third part of it and returns with a superplex for a near-fall, only for Marius to go back to the ankle lock from the kick-out. A roll-up nearly gets Pace the win from that, as does a Code Red… and Pace follows it up with a Vollgas dropkick… but he doesn’t go for the cover! Instead he looks for a 720 DDT, only to get suplexed out of the ring..

…where al-Ani looked to hit his across-the-turnbuckles dive. Pace escaped and hit his own tope-con-giro over the buckles, but he looked to go to the well once too often, leading to a moonsault off the top that missed, allowing Marius to lock in an ankle lock for the submission. A fun opener, which showed some nice progression for Pace compared to Carat. Perhaps this signals a return to the main roster? ***¼

Group A: Okami (Hideyoshi Kamitani & Daichi Hashimoto) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham)
These teams had differing results yesterday – back-to-back losses for Okami would end their campaign here.

Hashimoto and Gresham start us off, switching through some of the basics before we got some quick tags out as Brookes and Kamitani entered the fray, keeping it rather measured until Brookes took a shortcut. They look to switch to shoulder tackles, but Gresham blind tags in and surprises Kamitani with a German suplex – only to be surprised in turn with a double clothesline.

Kamitani makes light work out of Gresham with a slam, before Hashimoto tagged in to kick his way through the Octopus, who replied with a ‘rana that rolled through into a stomp to the leg. The work continued on Hashimoto’s leg with some double-teaming, but Daichi’s in with a back suplex to Brookes, before Kamitani returned with a more standard vertical suplex for a near-fall.

Kamitani keeps up on Brookes with chops, but Brookes is keen to return the favours, only to get slammed as the Big Japan pairing looked to focus on Brookes’ lower back with forearms and clotheslines, before an almighty kick to the spine left Brookes reeling.

Brookes manages to get free and bring in Gresham to trade shots with Kamitani, which led to a pair of low dropkicks as Kamitani was cornered… a Quebrada from Gresham takes Kamitani down for an ankle lock, but Okami are right back in it with a double-team suplex for a near-fall.

Gresham and Kamitani lock their opponents in submissions as a palm strike and a Parade of Moves broke out to leave all four men laid, with a crushing lariat to Gresham being the piece de resistance. Brookes is quickly back in with a slingshot cutter for a near-fall on Hashimoto as CCK tried to claim the upper hand, successfully doing so with chops before Brookes was barged through. Gresham tried desperately to fight away from Kamitani on the outside, but to no avail as Hashimoto flattened the Octopus with a huge implant DDT for the win. A bit slow to get going, but when this hit its stride, it was exquisite. ****

They show a Doug Williams promo here, recapping his wXw career, and announcing that Doug Williams will be inducted into the wXw Hall of Fame on their 18th Anniversary show in December.

Group B: Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin) vs. Team SPLX (Angelico & Jeff Cobb)
Francis Kaspin continues to wear ridiculous outfits to the ring. Oh, and Jay Skillet continues to get triggered at being called Andre Schurrle..

Jay Skillet exaggerates being shoved by Angelico early, before he was bent like an upside-down bow over Angelico’s leg. Inventive! Jeff Cobb tags in, and Jay-FK scatters. To be fair, I would too… Kaspin tries a chop, but his receipt kills him, as the bad guys get their comeuppance.

Cobb holds up Kaspin for a suplex, with a crossbody from Angelico bringing it down as the SPLX guys were all over things… at least until Jay Skillet returned and made a nuisance of himself, with some double-teams behind the ref’s back. It put Jay-FK back in the driver’s seat as Skillet wore down Angelico for a spell. A dropkick takes Cobb off the apron, before Jay ran into an Angelico knee… and here comes the big guy!

Cobb’s throwing around Jay-FK for fun, featuring a hands free F5 and a People’s Moonsault to Jay-FK – both at the same time. God, Jeff Cobb is good when he’s in his groove like this. A Doomsday knee from Angelico nearly gets the win, but Skillet breaks it up… and gets tossed outside for his troubles. There’s a double back suplex for Jay-FK as Cobb shows off again, only to get caught with a mule kick as Jay-FK rolled him up for the win – with some added help from Skillet behind the ref’s back. A very underhanded performance from Jay-FK – but it worked, so who can complain? They’re finally on the board at least… and Team SPLX are mathematically eliminated from the finals. ***¼

Dirty Dragan’s out next with his Rocko’s Modern Life-inspired entrance video (complete with the funky cab), getting a hero’s welcome on his first speaking appearance back after his (storyline) rehab. We’ll not count his appearance shaving Jurn yesterday! He thanks the crowd for being there for him, but tells us that the Dirty Dragan Trial Series needs to come to an end, as he’s getting one final chance tomorrow. It’s win or bust: and that chokes up Dragan, who tells us he can choose his own opponent, but he has a breakdown before he can do so.

Emil Sitoci comes out to help, as Dragan’s breakdown continued. This fell a little close to home… but before he can compose himself, out comes Chrome Dome Jurn, who looks furious. Wouldn’t you? Sitoci’s convinced to leave as Dragan challenges Jurn… and Jurn can barely contain his mirth. Simmons called Dragan a hypocrite and a coward as the pair laid into each other on the mic… but it was a ruse as Alexander James snuck through the crowd and whacked Dragan with the Singapore cane, prompting Emil Sitoci to make the save… but to no avail as he’s held in the ropes while the returning James put a beating to Dragan.

There’s nobody to make the save as Jurn then proceeded to take Dragan’s belt and whip him with it, while James straight-up choked Dragan with the belt as the segment went onto the other side of being uncomfortable, leaving the crowd in a rather stunned silence. A King’s Landing DDT to to Sitoci left Dragan on his own for a Kendo stick shot, as the segment came to an end. A little drawn out, but I’m happy a) Alexander James is back and b) they’re going to follow up with their planned team from earlier this year that was derailed.

Medics came to ringside to tend to Dragan, whose welts were clearly visible from that strapping.

Group A: Lucha Bros (Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix) vs. RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)
Well, how do you pick the crowd up after that? To quote Chris Brookes, sick effing tag match?

Fenix tried to start with a Muta lock, but Thatcher turns it easily into a side headlock… there’ll be none of that malarkey yet! Thatcher’s got some bones to bend, and after Penta chops him… an Austrian’ll happily do his bidding. CHOPS FOR EVERYONE! The Lucha Bros switch it up with superkicks to take down WALTER as they embarked on the rather unwise move of winding up a giant Austrian who was on the apron.

Thatcher’s isolated for a spell, but he arm whips Fenix off the ropes as WALTER just smashes Penta off the apron to turn things around. Another thudding chop took Penta down as the crowd got behind WALTER, as he wrenched Fenix in a Boston crab ahead of an eventual rope break. Thatcher’s back with a smug side Salto suplex for Fenix, before a cross armbreaker right by the ropes led to its inevitable conclusion.

Fenix swivels in the ropes as WALTER looked to be teeing up for a leapfrog/big boot combo of doom, and here comes Penta with Slingblades and CHOPS. There’s a springboard backcracker out of the corner for a near-fall. Fenix nearly dies after he’s knocked off the top rope, and Penta nearly goes the same way courtesy of a lariat from WALTER. Penta retaliates by chopping the tree that is WALTER’s leg with kicks, before that gave way to an exchange, ending with an enziguiri from Penta.

Thatcher and Fenix return, but it’s Thatcher who’s schooling Fenix with suplexes. Fenix’s lucha armdrag was impressive, but he’s quickly wrecked with a shotgun dropkick… and returns with a cutter for a near-fall. The Lucha Bros look to repeat their finish from last night, but the stuff package piledriver doesn’t come off as Thatcher counters into an armbar… and the end was nigh as Thatcher went back to the hold, before rolling up Penta for the pin. GLORIOUS. GLORIOUS STUFF. When this drops on wXw NOW on Wednesday, make sure you watch this. Match of the tournament so far, especially if you like four men “whacking seven shades out of each other”. I do. The Turbinenhalle did. ****½

Toni Storm vs. Wesna
We open the second half with a match that stole the show at last year’s Femmes Fatales, and it’s a slow pace as Toni drop toe holds Wesna at the start of the contest.

The pair clatter into each other with shoulder tackles, but the Croat isn’t budging, and she kicks Toni to the mat from there. They end up outside, but there’s a low-pe from Toni as Wesna ends up in some chairs, before we return to the ring as Toni maintained control. There’s a hip attack for Wesna, but she recovers and pulls Toni off the top rope, only to eat a leg lariat for a near-fall.

Wesna kicks out a Strong Zero piledriver, then dumps Toni with a jig ‘n’ tonic that looked brutal from the balcony, before she recovered from a further lariat to land a headbutt and a second Strong Zero for the win – even if Wesna had a foot under the rope. Decent enough, but this paled in comparison to their outing a year earlier. ***

Group B: Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero)
Our final group match of the night, and this could be a low-key show stealer. Especially if Dunkzilla takes exception to the 5 minute gimmick…

Speaking of five, we get the mounted punches from Monster Consulting to both of Aussie Open, as they continue to teach us German one word at a time. A Quebrada from Fletcher takes the champions outside, where they’re met with a tope as the Aussies took control. A slam and a back senton from Davis gets a near-fall on Nero, who’s kept isolated despite the travelling fans singing their desire to “hold on for a Nero til the end of the night.”

Nero finally gets a boot up and leaps over the Aussies as Avalanche comes in… full of fire and solidity as Kyle Fletcher just bounces off of him with a crossbody. There’s a sit-down stomp fas Nero takes the Alphamare Waterslide for a near-fall, before Fletcher gets such height off of a frog splash as he collects a near-fall.

Nero recovers a catch as Fletcher’s dumped with Wasteland, before the two big lads trade elbows to the head. Avalanche wins a battle for a suplex with Dunkzilla, ahead of a Sidewinder from Monster Consulting for a solid two-count. The Aussies hit Monster Consulting with their own move – the double-team Go to Sleep – before an assisted cutter gets a near-fall.

Avalanche stacks up the Aussies for a double Samoan drop, before Nero’s Bomb Scare knee drop nearly gets the win… things pick up really good with a Parade of Moves as the Aussies laid into the tag champions, using Avalanche as a weapon as he’s hiptossed into his own man. Nero’s picked up for the double-team sit-out powerbomb… and Aussie Open pick up the huge upset. SO SO GOOD. Monster Consulting need to beat Team SPLX tomorrow and hope for a favour from Jay-FK to make it to the finals. ****

They announce here that Absolute Andy has a shoulder injury, so they’re making this a title for the interim title. The Turbinenhalle. A loud crowd for both men. Here. We. Go.

wXw Interim Unified World Wrestling Championship: Bobby Gunns vs. Ilja Dragunov
Gunns has huge steam cannons for his entrance… a metaphor for smoking for the biggest new star in Europe this year, is it? Meanwhile, Ilja gets his big match laser show and his PROPER theme.

Cue duelling Bobby Gunns/Ilja chants, and this is electric. THROUGHOUT THE MATCH. This is more than electric. This is INSANE. They don’t have to do much early because of how white hot this crowd is, and they’re kept happy when Ilja back sentons into a cross armbreaker, before the pair tumble to the outside. Not to worry, the crowd keep on chanting as the pair brawled throughout the arena, ignorant to the count as we got someone thrown into some chairs. Yep. Still chanting.

Ilja backflips from the apron into the ring and decks Gunns with a right hand. Yep, you know what’s still happening. THIS. IS. SPECIAL. Ilja takes a tumble through the ropes. I have never witnessed ANYTHING like this in my life, and perhaps the easiest match these two could ever have with a crowd so malleable! Back to the action, and a single leg crab from Gunns forces Ilja to the ropes, so Gunns goes back with an armbar as we sail past TEN MINUTES OF THIS CROWD.

Gunns went to shush the crowd for a finger snap, but we’re not doing that! BACK SUPLEX FROM ILJA… clothesline from Ilja… and the crowd are still going! A Chernobyl bomb gets a near-fall as this crowd are still going, just getting louder for spots and finally they calm down as the pair go up for a superplex, with Gunns landing it!

We descend into an uppercut/chop battle between the two as the crowd finally quell themselves, before a kick was caught and met with a spinning backfist from Ilja. The crowd change their chant tracks as Ilja bursts into a flurry of offence, dumping Gunns with Saito suplexes, then a discus lariat as the crowd found their voice once more.

The pair exchange chops on the apron before Gunns stops Ilja in his path with a slam onto the edge of the ring… and there go those duelling chants! Gunns finally shushes the crowd for the finger snap, and it works, but Ilja flips him off and spits at the King of Smoke Style… who snaps all his fingers… but didn’t stop the Torpedo Moscau as Ilja wins the interim title. GOOD GOD. *****

ALL THE STARS. You *need* to watch this to hear what a molten crowd really is in 2018. You thought Ilja’s return at Carat was a monster pop? That was child’s play compared to this!

Just wow. This topped the opening night and then some, just by the virtue of that RINGKAMPF/Lucha Bros tag match. So far just about every match in the tag league has delivered to some extent – whether it’s in-ring or storyline-wise… and the atmosphere for the main event has to be seen to be believed. Good heavens.

Your World Tag Team League standings going into Sunday’s final night of action:

Group A:
CCK, Lucha Bros, Okami, RINGKAMPF (1-1; 3pts)

Group B:
Aussie Open (2-0; 6pts)
Jay-FK, Monster Consulting (1-1; 3pts)
Team SPLX (0-2; 0pts)

Tomorrow’s action features:

Group A: CCK (Chris Brookes & Rey Fenix) vs. Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M)
Group A: RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) vs. Okami (Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani)
Group B: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. Jay-FK (Jay Skillet & Francis Kaspin)
Group B: Monster Consulting (Avalanche & Julian Nero) vs. Team SPLX (Jeff Cobb & Angelico)

…and if tomorrow’s crowd is anything as exceptional as tonight’s, well, we’re going to be in for a treat!